Gender neutral, summer housing to begin in May

Rhonda Wheeler, News Editor

Students will have the option to live on campus this summer, even if they’re not taking a summer course.

Amy Price, director of housing and residence life, said everyone has an option with new changes coming to housing at the end of the semester.

Contracts will start this summer and applications will be available on myUSI around April 1.

Students must live in housing during spring 2020 and be enrolled in class for fall 2020 to qualify for summer housing. No summer class enrollment is required to live in housing over the summer.

Students will live in the apartments over the summer and stay in the same area.

“That way you’re around more people, but it’s not going to be quite the same,” she said.

Price said the university is different in the summer than it is during the academic year. The university doesn’t offer meal plans in the summer and most of the classes are online.

She said the administration discussed having summer contracts last year, but this will be the first year it is official.

The rates for a summer 2020 contract are $26 per day for a four person two bedroom apartment or $45 per day for a two person two bedroom.

Housing will implement gender inclusive housing next fall, which would allow students to live with roommates and suitemates regardless of gender identity. Any student living on campus is eligible for this type of housing.

Students have to register for gender inclusive housing during room selection as they won’t be randomly selected

This also means students could live with a romantic partner.

The Housing page on the university website states, “students are encouraged to make mature decisions about their living arrangements and roommate choices. While living with a romantic partner is not encouraged, we respect the privacy of our students.”

Housing will not notify parents if their student chooses to live in gender inclusive housing as parental consent isn’t required.

Price said Housing has been conducting a “pilot program” where students could come in and speak to her if they felt their needs aren’t being met in housing.

“My main purpose is to make sure that students feel comfortable and they have a place that they feel welcomed,” Price said. “A place that they feel comfortable living in.”

Price also said she thinks this will increase enrollment and retention at the university.

Along with summer living options and gender inclusive housing, there are plans to replace the locks on the bedroom doors of every apartment. The new locks would allow students to lock their bedroom doors from the outside.

“That’s one way we’re responding to student requests and you know, listening to what students are wanting from our housing,” Price said.

Housing has a plan to add Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC) units into all the bedrooms of an apartment to help with the mold.

Currently, a two person, two bedroom apartment has two PTAC units. One controls the heating and air in one bedroom and the other controls the other bedroom and the living room.

“I don’t know how much it’s going to end up being, but I am estimating about $600,000 to add the units into those apartments,” she said.

Price said the money would come out of housing reserve funds, but it’s not completely approved because Housing needs to be approved to access the reserved money.

The new housing options also include new Living Learning Communities (LLCs) starting in the fall of 2020.

LLCs such as Creative Expressions, E-Sports and Gaming, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Outdoor Adventures and Service and Leadership will be available to all majors. The Honors LLC will be available to all majors, but the student must be in the Honors Program.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions, Pott College, Center for Exploring Majors and Education majors will all have their own LLC.