In late June, Penn formally extended gender-neutral housing to future incoming freshmen starting with the Class of 2016 after members of various student groups, including the Undergraduate Assembly, the Residential Advisory Board and the Lambda Alliance, led the initiative. Previously, only upperclassmen had the option.
The University listened to student concerns and acted in a timely manner.
Furthermore, Penn is helping pioneer a progressive idea. Most peer schools have lesser, or even non-existent, gender-neutral housing policies. In the Ivy League, Brown University and Dartmouth College only allow upperclassmen gender-neutral housing and Harvard University only allows transgender students such housing.
Although gender-neutral rooms are not commonplace at Penn — in the past, only 1 percent of upperclassman chose the option — for those that do take part can yield great benefit. Some students are just more comfortable living with the opposite sex.
Being comfortable with surroundings is particularly important for freshmen, who are entering an entirely novel environment. Extending gender-neutral housing to freshmen can greatly ease their transition to college life.
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