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Amherst dedicates 25% of housing to ANY student but policy called ‘transphobic,’ ‘discriminatory’

Amherst College’s Residential Life Department had released some recent changes to its housing and “room draw” process for the coming academic year, and it didn’t take long for it to be called out as “discriminatory” to “gender non-conforming” students.

According to The Amherst Student, the RDL had “designated 75 percent of dorm rooms as single-gender in order to create a more balanced gender ratio in the dormitories.” This meant that those rooms would have been assigned “as either for women or for men.”

But, “[b]ecause some students are gender-nonconforming or transgender,” the Student notes, “about 25 percent of the rooms [would have been] coed and […] occupied by any student.”

Sounds reasonable, right?


In a follow-up article, the Student reports that “changes to the housing selection process has been shared widely on Facebook by students and groups who heavily criticized Residential Life over a perceived lack of inequality and support for transgender and non-gender-conforming students.”

Indeed, in the former piece, comments to the article were rather condemning:

–“So… if you don’t identify as either male or female, you only have 25% of the campus to choose from? That seems pretty blatantly discriminatory.”

–“The college shouldn’t allocate rooms to only gender binary conforming people.”

–“I am very disheartened to learn that ResLife will be engaging in transphobic & discriminatory practices. Students who are openly trans or who face unanswered questions about their own gender identities should not be forced to deal with yet more discriminatory policy, erasure and invalidation.”

–“We’re finally starting to make progress trying to be more inclusive and supportive of trans/non-binary students – and then Reslife decides to gender the entire housing system and roomdraw experience on an individual basis?

An update to both stories now reads as follows:

Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey sent an email to the community at 4:14 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 stating that the college has withdrawn proposed changes to the housing selection that would have designated rooms by sex. “Gender inclusive housing will remain our policy in all upper-class residence halls,” she wrote. “We recognize and apologize for the impact the proposals described in The Amherst Student have had on our community.” The Residential Life website has been updated to reflect these changes.

Read both Amherst Student articles.

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