Year in Review
President Boren approves co-ed housing expansion, allocation tripled
A year after members of several student organizations petitioned OU President David Boren for gender-neutral housing, he is expanding OU’s coed housing option for first-year students by over three times the amount allocated for this academic year.
This year, there were 58 available coed housing spaces, which offered the coed housing option to only 1 percent of the entre incoming freshman class, according to the OU Factbook.
Now that number has more than tripled with 186 spaces available for coed housing in fall 2013, according to a press release issued by Student Affairs on Friday.
Though students are allowed to live on the same hallway as students of other genders, they are required to share a suite with students of the same gender.
OU Residence Life director Diane Brittingham announced the expansion of the coed housing option in the press release, citing the success of this year’s coed halls as the reason behind the expansion.
Boren said in the release he supported the expansion because students who lived on the coed halls this year reported “increased satisfaction with University staff, a stronger sense of community on their floor, and a greater satisfaction overall with the University.”
All students are required to live on campus their first year at OU unless they are granted an exception, and until this academic year all of the hallways in the residence halls were single-gender.
This coed option added in the fall allowed 58 students to live on the same hall as students of the opposite gender, but not in the same room, according to Oklahoma Daily archives.
Boren implemented the coed housing option for fall 2012 after several student organizations advocated for gender-neutral housing during spring 2012, according to Daily archives.
Members of OU’s Students for a Democratic Society and Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Friends were two of the groups who advocated strongly for a gender-neutral housing option, according to Daily archives.
In March 2012, students drafted a gender-neutral housing proposal and led a rally on the South Oval to deliver it to Boren’s office, according to Daily archives. Boren surprised students and showed up at their rally before they started heading toward his office.
At the rally, former women's and gender studies instructor R.E. Davis said the purpose of creating a gender-neutral housing option was to create a place where people can feel safe to be themselves – with their own sexuality and gender presentation – and not face the same fear and hate they meet on an everyday basis, according to Daily archives.
Elizabeth Rucker, former Students for a Democratic Society member and Daily columnist, spoke up at the rally, as well, mentioning the names of many students who have committed suicide because of harassment regarding their sexuality, according to Daily archives.
Instead of approving the housing proposal, Boren announced in June 2012 that he’d decided to create the coed hallway option that was put into place for this academic year, according to Daily archives.
Once that option was announced two months before move-in day, over 400 students applied when there were only 58 spaces available, Brittingham said in an interview in Nov. 2012.
“We wanted to keep it small so we could see if there would be any issues, but it has been completely a great community,” Brittingham said.
Many of the students who’d advocated for gender-neutral housing in the spring weren’t satisfied with Boren’s decision.
“[The coed floor] was definitely a step in the right direction, but it’s obviously not enough,” said George Malatinszky, economics junior and member of Students for a Democratic Society, in an interview in Nov. 2012.
Coed housing is different from gender-neutral housing because it still groups students into male and female categories, Laurel Cunningham, English senior and former member of Students for a Democratic Society and Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Friends, said in an interview in Nov. 2012.
“There is a multitude of genders that can be performed by people, and whatever their gender is should not even matter,” Cunningham said.