Residence Services includes gender-inclusive option on housing form

Craig Zombar

Kent State Residence Services will have gender-inclusive options on the housing application form for the 2015-2016 school year.

Gender-inclusive housing is available to students who identify as transgender. This year Residence Services expects to have between 30 and 50 applicants for gender-inclusive housing.

Gender-inclusive housing options will now be available in 14 residence halls across campus, including Van Campen, Korb, Engleman, Centennials A-F, Johnson, Stopher, Leebrick, Beall and McDowell halls.

“This has been something that Kent PR!DE, Trans*Fusion, The LGBTQ (Student) Center and Undergraduate Student Government have been working to accomplish since 2009,” said Jill Church, director of Residence Services.

Kent State has had gender-neutral housing since 2009, but students often had a difficult time applying for the housing since the option was not included on the housing form until 2014, Church said.

Before it was on the application, students only knew about the option through the website or by calling ahead of time to find out about it.

“This year, they can indicate their interest on the housing application via two questions we ask,” Church said. “The new approach makes this option well-known for any incoming student.

Senior electronic media major Brad Gregg is a transgender resident of Leebrick Hall. He said the new form makes it much easier to find the option for gender-inclusive housing.

“I think it was much easier to sign up while reapplying for my room this year,” Gregg said. “Before, you had to do a lot of searching to find the option. With this option, it is more clear who you need to contact and what you need to do.”

Ken Ditlevson, director of the LGBTQ Student Center, said he is optimistic that the university is becoming more welcoming of the transgender community.

“This is amazing that we now have a system in place that looks like it will be a long-term solution to make all students feel more safe on campus,” he said.

Ditlevson said this change will potentially give Kent State a higher rating on Campus Pride Index, a national listing of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.

Kent State currently has a score of 3.5 out of 5, and ranks 5th in the state of Ohio behind Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, Wright State University and Ohio University. OSU has the highest rating for universities in Ohio with a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

Kent State ranks 68th nationally and 21st in the Midwest region on the website.  

“I hope with this new system put in place, KSU could receive higher ratings on the website,” Ditlevson said. “I just want incoming students and current students who are LGBTQ to know that KSU is an LGBTQ friendly place, and we are working very hard to make things better.”

Contact Craig Zombar at [email protected].