The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - 19

Traditionally Heterogendered Institutions and Campus Housing

to structural problems. College and university
housing practices notoriously maintain binaristic notions of gender and sexuality through
structural norms such as gendered restrooms
and residence hall rooms. While gender-neutral
or gender-inclusive housing policies may create
isolated spaces where norms of gender and
sexuality may be disrupted, the majority of students living on campus remain in spaces that
reify a two-gendered framework, which ignores
the existence of trans students, especially those
who identify outside of the gender binary. Challenges embedded within housing environments
include daily microaggressions and discrimination that are reinforced by heterogendered
structures. Vicki, a White, queer, cisgender
woman, was very involved in her university
housing experience, noting how important her
residence hall was to her college experience. She
eventually applied and was accepted to serve as
a resident assistant (RA), further cementing her
place within university housing and increasing
her visibility among her peers. Vicki reflected
on this connection to university housing and
her peers:
I chose this place because this is, with the
people that I work with, with my residents,
and just the space in general, has become
my home on campus. It's where I eat, sleep,
work, just everything. It's become my home.
The importance of peers, residents, and establishing community was central to Vicki's experience. Unfortunately, she also encountered
direct discrimination and violence from her
peers:
In the past month I got six notes basically
telling me that I was a dyke, that I was
a bitch, telling me to fuck off. I got some
obscene drawings. The last one I got told me

to go home. I was like, ok, I will leave, I'm
going home, whatever. But I think that was
definitely the hardest experience because this
is my home, and all I do is try to help people;
that's what I'm here for. Seeing that, not only
is my sexuality clearly being challenged, by
calling me a dyke, they're also attacking my
personal self. They're attacking my job, and
my character, and they're just throwing it
out the window. We don't want you here, so
you can leave. That was probably the most
difficult experience I had in the building.
Despite an established connection to community, Vicki's experience with discrimination
negatively impacted her experience in university housing. Although she reported this discrimination to her supervisors and they were
supportive in trying to pursue her harassers,
Vicki ended the semester uncertain of her
safety in the very place that became her home.
Despite support from administrators,
Vicki's encounter with anonymous messages
from (presumably) peer(s), echoed concern of
violence many LGBTQ+ people face. After these
incidents, Vicki sought to create educational opportunities for hallmates by engaging the community in experiences of homophobia in the
residence hall. Although Vicki voluntarily coordinated the event with support from housing
administrators, her situation demonstrated how
the education and support for LGBTQ+ students
within these spaces continues to be reactionary.
What would it mean to engage all residents, not
simply residents who voluntarily attend a nonmandatory RA program? Further, what would
it mean if college and university housing structures' defaults were gender-neutral and how
might that influence residents' behavior?
Although every incident of discrimination
may not be avoidable through practitioner inV O L U M E 4 6 , NO. 3 * 2 0 2 0

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 3 - Intro
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