BU housing program aimed at helping transgender students

By Matt Porter

April 16, 2014 Updated Apr 17, 2014 at 9:28 AM EDT

Vestal, N.Y. (WBNG Binghamton) Living on campus can be a challenge for many students, but for those identified as transgender, living on campus can be even more complicated.

There are few opportunities to live in housing units with people who are different from their original sex in most universities, but now Binghamton University has become the second SUNY campus to implement a housing program designed to help trans-gendered students.

"It's a national movement," said Paola Mignone, associate director of BU's Residential Life. "A lot of campuses around the nation are offering gender-inclusive housing."

The program, known as gender inclusive housing, lets any student opt to live with someone of the opposite sex.

"We wanted to provide that option because we understand gender inclusive housing might be the preferred choice for a lot of students," Mignone said.

Beginning this September, the school will reserve dorms in all of its residence halls for applicants to the program.

The university sped up its process of introducing the program after a student petition received more than 300 signatures in three days.

Mignone said it is more important to offer the option than worry about how many may actually sign up.

"Regardless of whether we had 10 students ask for it versus a hundred," she said. "This is something we wanted to provide for students."

The university is not recommending students opt into the program for romantic purposes, but it will not ask or restrict any student from applying.

Donald Lodge, director of the BU Rainbow Pride Union, said this opportunity could bring more trans-gendered students back to campus.

"Now they'll be incentivized to take more of a part in campus life and feel more included," Lodge said. "They would be more open to doing more student activities and being more open in being transgender."

The BU Rainbow Pride Union was the group that organized the petition for the new program.

Students need to fill out an application to apply for the special housing. They can either choose a roommate or ask to be paired with another student.