BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published November 28, 2010
Despite the best efforts of the Michigan Student Assembly and members of the Open Housing Initiative, gender-neutral housing will most likely not be an option for fall 2011 University housing. The proposal, which was presented to University Housing last Monday, doesn’t appear to be a feasible plan for the fall given the time-frame before housing options become available to students. This proposal’s delay shows a clear breakdown in communication between student organizations and University Housing. Though this problem may have been avoided if the open housing proposal was submitted earlier, University Housing needs to work with students to employ the new option as soon as possible to ensure that all students are in a comfortable living environment.
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After several months of discussion, Director of University Housing Linda Newman said that she’s not optimistic that open housing will be an option for fall 2011 student housing, according to a Nov. 23 article in the Daily. Newman disclosed that as of last Tuesday night she had yet to see the proposal. Open Housing Initiative member Allison Horky noted that the group sent the proposal to administrators that day. Newman claimed in the article that since returning students sign up for rooming assignments in late January, there’s not enough time to market and set up the housing option.
The Open Housing Initiative allows students to choose open housing and live with a roommate of the opposite sex. The option is beneficial since it provides an additional housing choice for students seeking an alternative rooming assignment. The Open Housing Initiative aims to give students the most comfortable living situation possible. University Housing needs to support the Open Housing Initiative because it’s important that all students feel at ease in their living situation.
Student organizations have been pushing for open housing for more than one year. In December 2009, MSA passed a resolution asking the University to support the housing option. And when students gave their input on the initiative last March, 67 percent of survey respondents said they welcomed the option and 38 percent said they would select the option. The following April, the Residence Halls Association also voted to support open housing. There is clearly a high amount of student support for the initiative.
Unfortunately, members of the Open Housing Initiative didn’t submit their proposal for open housing in a timely manner for it to be implemented by fall 2011. Members failed to consider the necessary timeline for University Housing to adjust to the new option. At the same time, University Housing should have been more proactive. Administrators could have monitored the Open Housing Initiative's progress and stepped in to help if they thought the initiative wasn’t going to be finished in time. Had University Housing been more actively involved in the process, open housing may have been a viable option for students next fall.
University Housing should have been more heavily involved in the Open Housing Initiative from the beginning. Until open housing is available, many students will continue to be uncomfortable in their living situations. The Open Housing Initiative and University Housing need to collaborate more closely to see if they can offer open housing in a timely fashion.