UCLA May Okay Coed Dorm Rooms -- to Better Serve Transgender Students

October 14, 2011 - 3:25 AM
UCLA

Aerial view of UCLA campus (Photo from UCLA website)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Coed dorm rooms could be a reality for some UCLA students as soon as next year -- but don't expect campus housing to turn into "Real World UCLA" with strangers of different genders being thrown into the same living situation.

The move is intended to better accommodate transgender students, as some other universities already have, including UC Berkeley and Stanford University, said Office of Residential Life director Suzanne Seplow.

"Given that most of our housing systems are structured under the concept of a binary gender -- that there's male or female -- for folks that don't fit into those categories, finding housing is challenging," said Seplow.

Seplow stressed that UCLA students would never be forced to room with a student of the opposite gender.

That's nothing like the MTV series "The Real World," which famously places seven strangers under one roof and tracks the drama that unfolds.

The policy change was recommended by student councils last year and housing officials could draft the policy to be implemented as soon as next fall.

Every year, there are a handful of transgender students who could benefit from the policy by living with a member of the gender they're transitioning to, said Seplow.

The policy hasn't been finalized, but it's not intended to accommodate romantic relationships between heterosexual couples in the dorms, said Seplow.

Student Alice Twu, 19, sees the policy change as a good thing, and could see herself living with a guy to avoid the drama of living with girls.

UCLA sophomore Patrick Malkoun said the policy could also offer options to gay students who, too often, deal with homophobia in housing arrangements.

"Living with someone that isn't gay can be like living with a hot pink elephant in the room," said Malkoun.

Malkoun's request to live with a lesbian friend earlier this year was denied under the current UCLA policy. He now lives in a dorm with a male student, and says his living situation is good.