Gender Inclusive Housing (GIH) Frequently Asked Questions

How was GIH created at NAU?

Residence Life launched a project group during Fall 2011 composed of interested staff members to research the concept of GIH. The project group was charged with identifying components of successful GIH programs, the rationale for the option, and the potential for implementing GIH at Northern Arizona University. The initiative was driven in part by the inclusion of “gender identity” in the univerisy non-discrimination statement which now reads:

“Northern Arizona University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religion, age or veteran status in the university's services, educational programs, and activities, including but not limited to, admission to and employment by the university.”

In addition, the establishment of the Office of LGBTQA Resources and Support and hiring of associated staff prior to the beginning of Fall Semester 2011 gave disparate campus and community entities an organizing and unifying voice to articulate the needs of their constituency.

GIH was established Fall 2012 and after consultation with GIH residents, along with continued demand, has been renewed and expanded.

How many schools have GIH? Have there been issues with other school's GIH programs?
Currently, at least 148 public and private schools in the United States have GIH or a policy that supports this option. Research conducted with similar public institutions with Gender Inclusive Housing options indicated limited concerns regarding GIH implementation. The most common concern has come from parents asking whether students would be placed in the community without requesting it. No increase in undesirable behavior (by students within or outside the community) was reported by any school with whom we communicated. 
How will this compare to other specialized living communities (e.g. 24 hour quiet, Greek Life, Honors, residential Learning Communities)?
All of the specialized living communities are unique residential environments that foster community growth and development through programmatic and staff-supported efforts. These communities are centered around a common set of values or ideals and are provided to students who are interested in connecting with other students with similar interests, needs, backgrounds, or experiences. Some of these communities require a contractual agreement aimed at upholding community standards and peer accountability. 
Who is eligible? What are the qualifications?

GIH is open to all on-campus students who participate in the Housing Application/Reapplication process. Residential students must complete the regular student housing application PLUS an additional application requesting Gender Inclusive Housing which includes an agreement to live by community standards.

First year students are encouraged to consider the LGBTQIA Residential Learning Community as a further option. First-year students who may be interested in the Gender Inclusive Housing option should contact Residence Life directly by emailing InclusiveHousing@nau.edu for more information

How many students can be accommodated?
Space has been reserved for up to 26 individuals currently, but we will respond to requests by interested individuals as best as we are able beyond that.
Where will this be located? What room types are available?
GIH is currently available within Gabaldon Hall. The community will be comprised of a number of suites clustered together on a floor, but will be part of a larger wing community. For 2014-2015, Gabaldon will be substance-free , mixed first-year/upper-division community.
When can I move into a GIH space?
Depending on available spaces, GIH is open throughout the academic year (does not include summer term). When there are no spaces available, alternate options may be explored and students have the option of joining a waiting list should space become available.
Will it cost more?
No, the cost will be based on hall and room type, not on community participation. For a current example of hall rates click here
What support exists for this initiative?
While no formal survey has been conducted, Residence Life has received informal requests from individual students and student organizations for housing options to accommodate the housing preferences of transgender (and other) students over the years. During its initial development, both the Office of LGBTQA Resources and Support and the LGBTQIA Commission were very supportive of the GIH initiative. In the Fall of 2012, GIH opened with 22 residents, and since that time has expanded due to increasing demand.
What is the process? How will students be selected?

GIH will be presented as an option for returning students during the upcoming reapplication process.

Interested students must submit the supplemental application (found on the main GIH page) that will ask students to identify how they will both enhance and benefit from living in the GIH community. Applications will be reviewed by Residence Life professional staff for best fit depending on the expressed needs of the applicant and the availability of space within the GIH community.

Residents would be able to make roommate and suitemate requests regardless of gender. Full suites will be identified for GIH assignments and no student would be placed in a gender inclusive suite without explicitly requesting it. For those who wish to reside in the GIH community, but do not have a roommate in mind, Residence Life staff would work with them individually to ensure the best possible placement. Requests by first-year students would be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on individual need.

Participating students sign a community agreement as part of their GIH application. The community agreement summarizes potential benefits of living in the GIH community and clarifies expectations of community members. These will be further defined through the drafting of a set of shared community expectations, which Residence Life already uses in the halls to empower residents’ voices in establishing community standards.

Can a student be placed in GIH without requesting it?
No. A student who would like to apply for GIH suites will have to go through a specific application for the community. Non-GIH students will be placed in suites adjacent to the community.
How will roommate matching be done?

Students will provide information on the supplemental application (found on the main GIH page) regarding roommate and suitemate preferences. No identifying characteristics (e.g., sexual orientation) are required to be shared. Students are given the option to share or be matched based on criteria with which they feel most comfortable in disclosing.

Mutual roommate requests will be honored if both students complete the GIH application, agree to the GIH community standards, and space is available.

As with all residence halls, students in GIH will be required to complete roommate agreements discussing lifestyle preferences, communication standards, shared space, and expectations for each roommate.

What about couples? Will I be able to live with my significant other?
The intended purpose of the program is to provide a living option for students who do not feel comfortable in current gendered housing options; therefore couples of any gender mix will be allowed to live together in GIH. All persons applying for and assigned to GIH are expected to honor the standards associated with the community.
How will roommate conflicts be handled? If I want to move out of my living situation but remain in GIH, will this be possible?

The best way to avoid roommate conflicts is to have roommates proactively discuss expectations of each other and the shared living space. This includes guests/visitors, expectations regarding privacy, cleanliness, shared items/food, etc. One of the best tools to avoid conflict is a roommate agreement which is completed early once students move into the buildings.

When/if disagreements occur, it is best to talk about them as soon as appropriately possible. If you need assistance initiating a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with your roommate(s), speak with your RA or Residence Hall Director (RHD). Sometimes it is best not to remain roommates. If that is the best option, your Residence Life staff member can let you know if other GIH spaces are available. Your RHD can also work with you to locate additional open room spaces on campus. 

Can a student apply for GIH after the beginning of the year?
Interested students can apply for GIH through the supplemental application (found on the main GIH page) and will be considered based on the strength of their application and as space permits. An active housing contract or application is also required.
Can I move out if I find this isn't a good fit?

Students interested in leaving GIH will pursue the standard room change process available to students throughout campus.

We strongly encourage students to consider the benefits and responsibilities of Gender Inclusive Housing before applying to this specialized living community because participation and support are significant components of this community.

Depending on space availability, the student can work with their Residence Hall Director (RHD) to find a more suitable place to live. 

Do all the regular residence hall rules still apply?
Residence hall policies and procedures are consistent in all hall environments on campus. To see a complete listing of policies and procedures, please review the Standards of Residence
If a parent does not want the student in GIH, can the parent have them moved?
 It is Northern Arizona University’s practice that students select their rooms. We encourage parents and students to communicate about selecting a room and about any concerns or questions that arise during this process.
Will there be specialized training for staff?
Yes, ongoing training is planned. 
What are the plans regarding the safety and security of the facility?
All residence halls with common entrances have two levels of security: exterior doors of the building remain locked at all times (with exceptions made during hall move in) and individual student rooms are accessed by keys issued only to the contracted resident(s). Students are encouraged to either confront or report people who do not appear to live in the building. Students are strongly discouraged from allowing others who do not live in the building from following them into the building. All guests and visitors should be escorted. All suspicious persons or activities should be reported immediately to NAUPD.
What about restroom facilities/showers?
GIH is located in suite style buildings which means a bathroom is shared between two adjoining rooms. It is important for occupants of both rooms to understand that Gender Inclusive Housing means their shared space may be used by residents whose gender identity may be different than their own. As with all suite style communities, there will be an emphasis for residents to discuss and set expectations regarding restroom use and sharing so as to avoid conflicts.
Will the GIH community be separate from the hall(s) in which it is located?

GIH rooms will be clustered together on specific floors. It is anticipated that some non-GIH participants will be assigned rooms adjacent to the clustering of GIH designated suites.

Our hope is that all students, including those in the GIH section, will be involved in the greater residence hall community. A good way to do this is to get involved in the building or complex’s hall association. Hall Associations represent all students in the building/complex.

How does GIH support student growth and development?
GIH is intended to provide a comfortable, inclusive environment where students can live in the same room with any student – regardless of sex, gender, gender identity/expression, or sexual orientation. Living in a group with similar values and expectations is a positive opportunity for all students, regardless of the specific situation. Identity development, like broader student development, is dependent on social support. Providing a supportive, inclusive living space is critical for developing a healthy place for students to learn, develop, and grow.
How does GIH support the mission of Housing and Residence Life at Northern Arizona University?

The Mission Statement of Housing and Residence Life is: “To provide welcoming vibrant communities that foster personal growth and enhance the student experience” . This mission, along with our values of “Learning, Integrity, Student Centered, Inclusive-Communities, and Attitude of Service” is what drives our department. 

The GIH initiative was created with the explicit goal of helping Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Gender Variant students experience a greater sense of belonging in NAU’s residential communities. A vibrant GIH community will additionally advance student learning and greater appreciation for diversity for those students who live in the community and those who live in proximity.”