Ferris State University is taking a step to make all their students more comfortable with their living arrangements starting next year.
The university in Big Rapids is implementing a gender neutral residence program.
Now students can apply to room with same sex, opposite sex or gender neutral roommates to better match with how they identify.
“It’s a good step forward,” says LGBTQ sophomore Axel Lauren, “It’s been very much needed.”
Ferris State, like all universities, wants to be a place where students can thrive and grow.
“Students come to university and we want them not only to be academically successful but socially successful,” says Housing Director Bryan Marquadt.
This comes after years of push from the LGBTQ community on campus, who has faced these troubles when getting their room assignments.
“The suite mate’s confused, their parents are confused, you’re uncomfortable, you get outed,” says Laurain, “It’s a whole another thing that you have to go through.”
Many Michigan universities already have this program and Ferris is basing expectations on them.
“About 1% of their population uses the program,” says Marquadt, “We have about 3,500 students at Ferris, so we expect about 35 students.”
The school knows that not everyone is going to agree with this decision and there may be some controversy but they also stress this is an opt-in program. If a student were to come in blind, there’s no way they’re going to be added to the gender inclusive rooming unless they decide to be.
“There are people in the community where this is a constant issue we face,” says Laurain, “It’s outstandingly helpful. It is basically going to treat us like basic human beings.”
The student body is changing and this is just another step for Ferris State to change with their students.
“We just keep moving with the changes that the students want and one of the big changes is this gender inclusive,” says Marquadt.
Another impact from this decision will be unmarried couples with children. Previously they had to live off campus now they can live together on campus with their family.
The program will include dorms, suites and on campus apartments.