Over the last four years, Residence Life, Residential Services and the Pride Center have discussed ways to implement all-gender housing options on Lehigh’s campus. This past spring, members of these offices turned this idea into reality by implementing co-ed apartments in Farrington Square.
Five to six years ago, Trembly Park apartments were all-gender apartments where students could live with whomever they pleased. This option was phased out.
Now, when students go online to register for housing, inclusive, co-ed rooming will be available to everyone. This is an active effort to align Lehigh’s living options with the Principles of Our Equitable Community.
“Residential Life, Residential Services and the Pride Center all discussed the need to have a plan for some sort of all-gender option that everyone could have access to,” Pride Center director Chelsea Fullerton said, “regardless of the price point and regardless to what year they were.”
Fullerton said as more residence halls are built, the goal is to have more and more all-gender living options available to students.
As of now, Lehigh provides themed residential communities for first-year students and upperclassmen alike to allow individuals with specific interests to engage and enjoy themselves in different living styles. Some of these communities include STEM, Creative Commons, Outdoor Adventure and the Gaming Community, alongside a dozen other options.
In previous years, a Pride-themed community was an option for students. However, Fullerton said this community was not always the best choice for students who wanted to live in all-gender housing.
“A lot of people think that all-gender housing is just for transgender students,” Fullerton said. “Obviously it’s a helpful option for many trans students but I also know, for example, gay men who would prefer to live with their friend who’s a girl or gay women who would prefer to live with their friend who’s a guy.”
All-gender apartments are an alternative choice for students who are seeking an accepting community.
“Students at Lehigh should feel a sense of belonging to Lehigh and should also find a micro-community within Lehigh where they feel at home,” Ashley Lemmons, the director of Residence Life, wrote in an email.
Farrington Square, which is typically reserved for upperclassmen, is currently the only option for all-gender living, but Residence Life is working to provide more options for students of all ages.
“We are planning to provide more options yearly until all class years have the opportunity to live in all-gender housing,” Lemmons wrote. “We are not considering this ‘theme’ housing but more of an option to students with no particular programming.”
Currently, there are six Gryphons for the Farrington Square apartments, but not all of the apartments within the complex are all-gender.
Matthew Thoonkuzhy, ‘19, is a Gryphon for Farrington Square.
“Each apartment is their own housing,” Thoonkuzhy said. “Each apartment is separated. A mixed-gender apartment isn’t going to affect any of the other residents. Farrington Square is very independent living.”
Not all Gryphons were informed as to why the decision to create all-gender apartments was made, but Thoonkuzhy said it is a good option.
“It could be a tricky situation because it just isn’t what everyone is used to,” Thoonkuzhy said. “But as long as Lehigh’s careful, everything can run smoothly.”