ITHACA, NY – Ithaca College announced recently a new open-housing policy, which will allow students to choose their roommates regardless of gender, according to a news release from the college.

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“I believe this policy will allow our students the flexibility to live in the kind of roommate/apartment arrangement that makes them most comfortable,” said Bonnie Prunty, director of the Office of Residential Life and one of the two administrators who put forth the plan.

The practice is becoming more common on college campuses. According to CampusPride, an an organization promoting safe environments for LGBTQ college students, over 200 colleges and universities across the US have a similar option, including 23 in New York.

Some institutions began offering the option as far back as the early 2000s.

Cornell University began offering a similar option on a limited basis in 2013, which has been expanding to more residence halls over time.

The IC plan, first proposed in 2015 originally faced concerns, such as couples choosing to live together.

“I don’t share that fear — I also think it’s a super heteronormative way to look at it because LGBT students could live with a romantic partner now,” Linda Koenig, Assistant Director of Housing Services and Communications told The Ithacan. “I think students are smarter than to live with a significant other.”

Experts suggest that relatively few students will actually choose the option. While the mixed-gender housing has roots in providing more options for gay, lesbian and transgender students, the option also appeals to some students simply because they have good friends who happen to be a different gender.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.