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Missouri Students Seek Coed Rooms

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – The University of Missouri has been considering requests from student groups to provide coed rooms for students.

Several University of Missouri student groups, including the Residential Halls Association, have adopted resolutions calling for gender-neutral housing.

“Gender-neutral housing is something that’s very important,” Xavier Billingsley, president of the Missouri Students Association, told The Columbia Daily Tribune. “We want students to feel comfortable at our university. Gender-neutral housing is a step we can take to really show students we do care about their well-being and want to help them as much as we can.”

Frankie Minor, director of the University of Missouri’s Residential Life Department, said Saturday he hopes to develop a solution by next fall and is seeking advice from other universities.

“We need to get a sense of who is our target population,” he said.

Washington University in St. Louis and Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville both offer gender-neutral housing. Northwest Missouri began its gender-neutral housing program this year after requests from transgendered students. The Northwest Missouri program allows male and female students to choose to live together, and is open to all students

At the University of Missouri transgendered students can now request special arrangements such as a single room, but fewer than five students have taken advantage of that policy, Minor said.

He said space is also an issue for the university because residential halls are full and mostly limited to freshmen. Opening coed rooms also might not solve issues for transgendered students because some coed rooms could be taken by opposite-sex friends, relatives or couples. There is no guarantee that transgendered students assigned to a coed room without pre-selected roommates would find themselves living with allies.

“We don’t want to force students into accommodations that are uncomfortable for them,” Minor said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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