Improvements in gender-neutral housing noticed

Annika Lindburg, Staff Writer

Linfield College is ahead of a lot of other schools and states when it comes to being gender inclusive.  


“The idea for gender inclusive housing was brought to faculty’s attention about five years ago, but was often requested too close to housing registration to implement changes at short notice.” Jeff Mackay adds that “the gender neutral bathrooms project began about three years ago.”


Patty Haddeland, director of student health, wellness and counseling describes how the concept of gender inclusive housing began. “It’s genesis was a group of students involved with FUSION who saw an opportunity for the campus to become more supportive of LGBTQ students and allies in a tangible way” Haddeland said.  

“For me, the concept came about when I wanted to live with the person I felt most comfortable with but due to Linfield’s old policy, I wasn’t able to because he identified as male and I as female,” said Linfield alum, Shawna Jacobson-Sims.  


Gender neutral housing is important to Linfield because it “allows students the opportunity to live in an environment that feels safe and supportive of who they are,” Haddeland said. “Gender inclusive housing is an important topic on campus, because inclusiveness and being welcoming are important aspects at Linfield college.” said Jeff Mackay (not sure). Adds Jacobson-Sims, “every student at Linfield deserves to feel safe and secure. School is already stressful enough without throwing in at-home stress as well. It is a matter of personal health and well-being” said Jacobson-Sims.


A common misconception is that you can only apply for gender inclusive housing if you identify as the opposite gender, but that is not the case at Linfield. “Students don’t have to identify the reason they are applying for gender inclusive housing. They have to identify how they are going to contribute to the success of the environment if they live in gender inclusive housing,” Haddeland states.


While Linfield strives to be inclusive, there are ways Linfield can be more accepting. “We are already working toward greater outreach and inclusion. The President’s Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) is committed to arranging for monthly student-led forums to raise awareness of issues on campus and to give students a voice in expressing concerns and needs,” Dawn Graff-Haight said.