UW-L will allow male and female students to live together on campus

Published On: Feb 12 2013 05:55:55 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 12 2013 07:36:36 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

For the first time, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse will allow male and female students to live together on campus in suite-style dorms.

So far, there's only been one formal request for a co-ed living situation next school year.

But that now opens the door for other interested students to ask for the same arrangement.

It's a breakthrough the university's LGBT population has been waiting for.

UW-L senior Sarah Schmidt lived on-campus her first three years, but she said her roommates weren't always accepting of her bisexuality.

"I know of one person in particular who I would have loved to be able to room with for my sophomore year, but he was a man. So that wasn't an option for me," said Schmidt.

Starting in the fall, that's going to change.

The UW Board of Regents leaves it up to the chancellor on each campus to decide whether to give students the option of co-ed housing.

UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow is giving it a thumbs-up.

"I think that if students are paying to live in our residence halls and we have the ability to give them the kind of situation that they're comfortable with, we certainly should do that. I don't know why we would stand in the way of that. And I guess I'm kind of intrigued if there are people who are concerned about this, exactly why they would be," said Gow.

Schmidt said it's an issue that's been especially important to the growing transgender population on campus.

"It's their dorm room. It's where they go and sleep every night. And hypothetically, they should be able to be themselves and be comfortable and safe. But for a lot of transgender students, that's not the case right now," said Schmidt.

Only one dorm on campus will offer gender-neutral housing -- Reuter Hall. That's because it's the only hall that has suite-style apartments with separate bedrooms.

Reuter Hall is also the most expensive dorm on campus. It costs nearly $5,300 dollars to live there for the academic year.

Schmidt said it's a start, but she's concerned it might price some students out of their only option for co-ed housing.

More than one-third of UW-L undergraduates live on-campus.

Gow said any students who want to request on-campus co-ed housing should contact the Office of Residence Life.