Office of Residential Life

Gender Neutral Housing

Gender Neutral Housing - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Gender Neutral Housing?
Gender neutral housing means the university has not predetermined who can live together based on their gender, gender identification or gender expression. The university is not going to ask students to explain their rationale for wanting to live with another student(s), but as long as the request is mutual and all students involved are matriculated, enrolled upper-class students, then they qualify for gender neutral housing. Students will not be asked by the university to identify their own gender during the room selection process. Gender neutral housing is available in any room in Upperclass Hall and in Philippi Hall, excluding ground and first floor East. Students signing up for Gender Neutral housing must sign an additional contract that addresses what will happen if a roommate(s) moves out.

Why is Gender Neutral necessary?
Gender neutral housing meets a need for some of our students that up to now did not fit into our gender binary housing restrictions. We have historically been asked by students and parents to expand our housing options to accommodate opposite sex siblings, opposite sex friends, opposite sex partners (married and unmarried) and transgendered students. We think this option mirrors the housing opportunities available to students off campus but with the added convenience of on-campus life. 

Is Gender Neutral Housing just for upper-class students?
No!  We have gender neutral housing options for students at all class levels.  Any of the rooms in Upperclass and Philippi Halls are eligible for gender neutral housing.  Gender neutral housing is also available in Wood Hall on the Rainbow Floor.

Why aren't all the rooms on campus Gender Neutral?
This is for the same reason that we are offering gender neutral rooms. We want to give our students a very diverse choice of housing options, ranging from single gender housing on single gender floors on one end of the continuum through gender neutral housing on the other end.

What if I want to live in a Gender Neutral room and my parents don't want me to, or vice versa?
That is a conversation that needs to occur between parents and students. We would be willing - at the request of the student, and as long as space was available - to move a student out of a gender neutral room if a serious conflict occurred between them and their parents.

How does the Gender Neutral contract work?
The contract will work differently at different points of the year. If a vacancy occurs during the academic year, the Resident Director will hand deliver a return receipt letter to the current resident(s) of the apartment, suite or room. The Resident Director will deliver signed receipts to the Residential Life assistant director. The assistant director will send an e-mail to remaining residents' USM e-mail addresses, instructing them to act on one of following options within the time period specified in the e-mail (usually one week):

A. Finding a current upper class residential student or a currently enrolled, matriculated upper class USM commuter student to fill the space
B. Moving out of the current apartment/suite/room to fill another gender neutral living space, depending on availability
C. Moving out of the current apartment/suite/room to another space on campus, depending on availability
D. Paying for the vacant space in the current apartment/suite/room; the pro-rated cost of the empty space(s) would be evenly divided between the remaining resident(s).

If residents have not acted on one of the above options by the deadline set in the e-mail, all will automatically be charged for the open space(s) in the room, as specified in option D.

Vacancies occurring over the summer will be handled on a case by case basis through communication with the Assistant Director.

A copy of the Gender Neutral Living contract may be requested from Residential Life by e-mailing reslife@usm.maine.edu.

Why is a special contract required to live in a Gender Neutral room?
We want to have students living in gender neutral rooms with roommates they have selected. We needed to spell out the obligations should a roommate cancel. 

What happens if I want this type of housing and I can't get in?
We will start a wait list if necessary at housing sign up.

I have other questions that were not answered here. Who can I contact?

The coordinator for the Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity, Sarah Holmes, can help with many inquiries. Contact her at sholmes@usm.maine.edu or 207-780-5767. Housing questions not answered above may be directed to Residential Life, reslife@usm.maine.edu.