Your roommate can be your girlfriend or boyfriend

If he or she happens to be the same sex, Kent State can’t stop you.

If he or she happens to be the same sex, Kent State can’t stop you.

By Ben Wolford

Kent State students Andy Sokolich and Adam Schulte
Their beds may be lofted, but Andy Sokolich, left, and Adam Schulte still sleep together in their Johnson Hall dorm room. The university doesn’t have a policy regarding same-sex students living with their partners on campus. (Photograph by Caitlin Sirse)

If Adam and Andy break up, they’ll probably just draw a line down the middle of the floor. They could request to switch roommates, but they can’t break Residence Services’ contract and leave their dorm room in Johnson Hall. They don’t think they’ll break up, though, and they haven’t had any problems yet. Well, they’ve had a few problems.

“I usually wake up with an arm under my head and the other arm shoved up against the wall …” says Adam Schulte, sophomore biotechnology and math major.

“I told you, they take four inches off the side and add it to the end. That’s exactly how they get an ‘extra-long twin,’” says Andy Sokolich, freshman business and math major.

Residence Services has no policy regarding guys rooming with their boyfriends and women living with their girlfriends. So basically, they don’t not allow it.

Then why can’t heterosexual couples live with their significant others in Kent State’s dorm rooms?

“That’s a good question,” says Jill Church, associate director of Residence Services, “and I think it’s more rooted in that’s how we’ve always practiced it.”

Church says she doesn’t have a personal opinion about gay people living with their boyfriends or girlfriends. When I tell her Adam and Andy are dating and living together, she says she has no interest or grounds to do anything about it.

So with no administrative pressure discouraging gay couples from living together, the decision falls with the couples, and you can find a range of opinions.

“I asked my friends if they thought it was a good idea,” Schulte says. “The ones who were single said it would be a bad idea, but the ones in relationships said it would be a good idea. Probably because the ones who were dating thought it would be nice to live with the person they were dating.”

Before 1984, there weren’t many co-ed residence halls at all at Kent State, says Kim Ferguson, coordinator of residential communities. Now all of them have at least male and female floors.

Church says it’s likely dorm rooms will never be co-ed at Kent State, at least not any time soon.

“The reality is we’re a state institution, and we’re in Ohio,” she says. “Ohio is pretty conservative in that area.”

Kent State’s policy regarding transgender and gender-neutral housing
“Students are assigned to resident hall rooms according to their birth-sex unless sex reassignment surgery is complete.” It goes on to say, “Transgendered individuals — or those who are transitioning to transgendered status — who are requesting a roommate are encouraged to meet with Residence Services staff … to process this request. Per Residence Services policy, opposite-sex students (specific to birth-sex prior to sex reassignment surgery) are not assigned as roommates or suitemates.”

(This article originally appeared in the Winter 2009-10 print edition.)

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