After years of asking for changes to the Gender Inclusive Housing system, LGBTQ+ students continue to face issues such as uninformed staff, delayed responses, technical glitches and randomized roommate assignments on all four campuses.
Gender Inclusive Housing is a form of specialized housing for all students protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), allowing students to keep their educational records confidential.
Jupiter Chao, a freshman studying psychology, first faced issues with Gender Inclusive Housing when selecting their room for the 2022-23 school year. Chao had planned to room with three other nonbinary students, but after filling out the Gender Inclusive Housing application and accessing the housing portal during their assigned lottery time, they were informed they were unable to form a roommate group with students of different assigned genders at birth.
"Gender Inclusive Housing is supposed to go with their motto of aiming to include and not exclude, but inclusivity goes out the window when you tell people that their assigned gender at birth means more than the gender they identify as," Chao said.
Chao said it took several weeks and multiple emails before ASU Housing addressed their concerns and placed them in the correct roommate group.
Diego Eann, a freshman studying information technology, faced their own struggles with the system when trying to sign up for Gender Inclusive Housing on the Polytechnic campus. They said they experienced "roadblocks throughout the entire process" such as severely delayed responses and a lack of educated representatives.
"Housing is not very clear on the process, especially with roommate placement. Most of the housing officials I talked to were not knowledgeable about the process, and both of my roommates were repeatedly deadnamed and misgendered," Eann said. "No one at Housing seemed to really know who was going on except for management, and it was very difficult to get in contact with them."
Issues with Gender Inclusive Housing at ASU are not new — in the Fall 2020 semester, the ASU Rainbow Coalition and Barrett LGBTQ+ Club started a petition requesting reform of the system. The petition's primary mission was to incorporate Gender Inclusive Housing into the regular housing portal to eliminate potential barriers.
In addition, the organizations advocated for the incorporation of housing representatives to address concerns with the Gender Inclusive Housing process, as well as introduce roommate selection instead of relying on random assignment.
After gathering over 600 signatures, organization leaders met with University Housing to voice their concerns and assist with the creation of the application questions, according to Ruby, a sophomore studying museum studies and facilitator of advocacy for the Rainbow Coalition who asked that their last name be omitted to avoid potential stalking.
Since then, the process has been shortened and added to the general housing portal, but many of the issues have persisted, such as random roommate assignment, delayed responses and uninformed University Housing staff, the students said.
As more LGBTQ+ students learn about and express interest in the system, the "staff needs to be more aware about Gender Inclusive Housing and how to accommodate LGBT students," Ruby said.
In a written statement to The State Press, a University spokesperson said "ASU Housing is committed to supporting the diverse identities of our students. We work closely with students on Gender Inclusive Housing, and more information on the process is available through the housing portal. If a student is interested in gender-inclusive housing and is experiencing difficulties with the housing portal, please contact our office for assistance."
Ruby said Gender Inclusive Housing is essential for students trying to find an accessible, affirmative community, and encouraged students who are experiencing issues with the Gender Inclusive Housing system to contact the Rainbow Coalition with their concerns.
"Students coming to college may be coming from home environments that were not as affirming or accepting," Ruby said. "Being able to have an environment where you're comfortable and surrounded by people who are accepting of your identity and understand where you're coming from is something that's very important and what makes this housing accommodation so fundamental."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story included Ruby’s last name. It was omitted on March 23, 2022 at 12:40 p.m. to protect their privacy.
Sadie Buggle is a full-time reporter for the Community and Culture desk at The State Press. She was previously the editor-in-chief and news editor of her high school newspaper.