OSL pulls mixed-gender floors


Louis Hannegan, Managing Editor

The Office of Student Life decided Friday to reverse its plan to offer mixed-gender floors in the New Hall next fall, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs John Plotts said in an interview that day.
“It was ultimately determined that such an arrangement could too easily be perceived as inconsistent with the vision and values of the institution,” Plotts said. “Even though Student Life had worked on a plan to avert this perception, in the end, it was determined that too many negative factors existed to move forward.”
Plotts mentioned the unease experienced by many in the University of Dallas community at the thought of having men’s and women’s living spaces so close together without the separation of a hall door. Currently,  key-card doors separate the  men’s from women’s floors in the New Hall.
Under the original plan, Student Life intended to make one or two floors in the small east wing mixed-gender. At most, 28 students would have been housed on mixed-gender floors.
The purpose of such an arrangement was to allow more upperclassmen to live on campus and to maximize New Hall capacity and thus revenue.
“Prior to last year, seniors were told they had to move off campus.  We don’t want to force the students off campus—especially seniors, as they provide tremendous leadership to the younger students,” Plotts said in an earlier interview.
Allowing seniors to stay on campus created a housing “crunch” in the student apartments and New Hall last fall, Plotts explained.
With the expectation of an even higher demand among seniors for on-campus housing given the larger size of the class of 2014, Plotts wanted to maximize the space available in the New Hall, and thus thought of offering mixed-gender floors to accommodate those who did not fit on the single-gender floors.
“As you might imagine, it is difficult to get exactly the right number of men and women to fill the hall by wings,” Plotts said.
Plotts stressed that the goal throughout the whole process was to make each floor single-gender.
“Again, the first priority is to make each floor single gender.  If that cannot be accomplished, then, in the interest of accommodating students who wish to live in the New Hall and to maximize the occupancy, we will make such living arrangements available,” Plotts said.
This is the third year that Student Life has floated the idea of offering mixed-gender floors in the New Hall, but the first year it actually intended to implement such an idea, said Director of Student Life Operations Betty Perretta.
Student responses this year suggest that such an idea is not altogether unpopular.
Out of the 547 students who filled out the housing registration form last week, 60 students said they wanted single-gender only; 301 had no opinion on either single-gender or mixed-gender options; 105 preferred mixed-gender; 81 preferred single-gender but would be willing to be placed on a mixed-gender floor.
For this year, these numbers have provided “interesting” data for Student Life but will not alter the housing arrangements in the New Hall. The floors of the east wing will either be single-gender or remain vacant. Men’s and women’s halls will remain separated by a keycard door.


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