Co-ed apartment living coming to UW-La Crosse, Eau Claire not looking into it

Story by Becky Olson, Freelancer

As senior Asia Riel returned from the basement of her house with a load of laundry in one arm and closed her bedroom door, she said she remembers the idea of privacy played a factor in her decision to live off campus.

“Being off campus is nice in the fact that you have your own room, you have your own bathroom,” Riel said. “You know, normal things.”

But having the choice to live with three men in a house didn’t make her reluctant at all. In fact, she enjoys it.

“I get along with guys. But having guy roommates is not bad at all,” Riel said. “It depends on who you are as a person and on who they are too.”

Students living in residence halls at some UW campuses get to experience this type of living opportunity as well.

UW-La Crosse announced that they will allow males and females to live together in apartment-style dorms starting next fall.

The new policy gives students the option to sign up for gender-neutral housing along with choosing roommates for the apartment.

Each apartment includes four individual bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen area and a living room. La Crosse Director of Residence Life Nick Nicklaus said that it is very similar to UW-Eau Claire’s Chancellors Hall.

Chancellors Hall has 81 apartments that hold approximately 324 students.  Reuter Hall, the only apartment-style dorm on La Crosse’s campus, has 95 apartments that hold around 380 students. It is the only residence hall that will have the gender-neutral policy in effect.

Other residence halls on La Crosse’s campus offer coed living environments for men and women by cube, floor and room.

According to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents policy, each chancellor can choose the number of coed living environments in residence halls that sufficiently cover students’ needs. Other exceptions must be recommended to the Board of Regents by the chancellor and the president of the university system.

Eau Claire’s Towers North and South dorms have coed floors, located on the tenth floor in each building.

Nicklaus said many La Crosse students were in favor of having the choice of gender-neutral housing. This popular support led the Residence Hall Association Council to pass the proposal with a 28-1-2 vote on December 8, 2011.
While the idea is a possibility in the future at Eau Claire, Director of Housing and Residence Life Chuck Major said that no proposal of the kind has been brought up.

“The Student Hall Association hasn’t heard any suggestions about it from students,” Major said.

About 38 percent of the student population at Eau Claire lives on campus compared to 31 percent at La Crosse.

Junior Nicole Leach, who lives in Chancellors Hall, said that there are many advantages of living in an on campus apartment.

“We have a lot more amenities here than I have at home,” Leach said. “We have a dishwasher and a garbage disposal. I don’t even have that at home. So I’m living the dream.”

While gender neutral rooms would be nice, sophomore Alex Herrera said that it wasn’t precisely at the top of her agenda.

“If people want the option, I think they should have it,” Herrera said. “But it’s not a dealbreaker for me, for this university.”

It would take around a year for a gender neutral proposal like La Crosse’s to take effect at Eau Claire if it became reality.