Gender Open Housing

Gender Open Housing refers to an arrangement whereby students, regardless of sex, gender, or gender identity, are permitted to share a room or suite in select areas of Northwestern’s residence halls. The primary reason for such a policy is to provide housing options that take into consideration varying identities and preferences, and to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all students. Gender Open Housing is not intended − and in fact is highly discouraged − for romantic couples. See below for additional questions and answers related to Gender Open Housing

Who is eligible to live in Gender Open Housing?

Gender Open Housing is available to all Northwestern University Students over the age of 18 years old. Specific questions regarding Gender Open Housing should be directed to our office.

How old do I have to be to live in Gender Open Housing?

In order to live in Gender Open Housing at Northwestern University, you need to be at least 18 years of age by the time you move into the Residence Hall. Those under 18 years of age must have written permission from their parent/guardian before signing up to live in Gender Open Housing.

Will I be assigned to live in Gender Open Housing?
Students will not be assigned to Gender Open Housing unless they have elected to live there.
When do I sign up for Gender Open Housing?
Students will be asked to indicate interest in Gender Open Housing on the Housing application to gauge interest before self-selection begins.
Where is Gender Open Housing located for 2017-2018?

Undergraduate Residence Halls:

  • Foster-Walker West, 2 wings of the 3rd floor

Graduate Residence Halls:

  • Engelhart [any graduate/professional student]
  • McManus [any Kellogg student]
How will bathrooms work in Gender Open Housing?

Foster-Walker West, 3rd floor: single stall

How will my roommate be assigned?
When you fill out your housing application you will be asked for your gender identity/expression. Unless you self-select to live in Gender Open Housing, you will be placed with a student that identifies as the same gender as you.
What if I don't feel comfortable living with my roommate?
You should contact your Resident Assistant or Resident Director. This will start a process of mediation. If the problem cannot be solved through mediation, roommate switches can be arranged. If the situation is an emergency, an immediate housing change can be made.
Is Open Housing available only to students who identify as LGBTQ?
No. Although one of the goals of Gender Open Housing is to address tensions often felt by queer and transgender students in finding a compatible roommate, Gender Open Housing exists to allow any two friends to live together, regardless of sex, gender, and gender identity.
Who can I call if I have questions about Gender Open Housing?
Feel free to call Residential Services with any questions regarding Gender Open Housing.
FAQ for Parents/Families: How will my student's roommate be selected?
Your student will indicate the preferred gender identity/expression of their roommate during the housing application process. If your student indicated they would like to live in Gender Open Housing, and do not have a roommate preference, their roommate will be assigned to them.
FAQ for Parents/Families: Will my student have access to a bathroom that they will be comfortable using?

Yes, bathroom breakdowns are below. If your student is living in a Gender Open Housing community that sets bathroom use, we encourage them to attend the initial floor meeting, where bathroom use will be discussed. If your student is uncomfortable with the arrangement, they can contact their Resident Assistant or Resident Director. If you have questions about the bathrooms in Gender Open Housing, please contact our office.

Bathroom Breakdown
Foster-Walker West, 3rd floor: single stall

FAQ for Parents/Families: Will it cost more to live in Gender Open Housing?
The cost of living is based on the specific residence hall, not whether you live on a Gender Open floor. 
FAQ for Parents/Families: Why do people choose to live in Gender Open Housing?
People choose to live in Gender Open Housing for many reasons. For some students, it is based on their gender identity/expression or sexual orientation; others simply want to live with close friends of different genders. The decision to live in Gender Open Housing doesn't necessarily mean anything about someone's identity or personal life.
FAQ for Parents/Families: What is the difference between Gender Open Housing and Co-ed?
Gender Open Housing means that any students, regardless of gender identity, can live in the same room in the selected Gender Open Housing residence halls. Co-ed means that students live in one room with someone of the same gender identity, but both male and female identified students live on the same floor.
FAQ for Parents/Families: What if my student doesn't want to live in Gender Open Housing? What if I don't want my student to live in Gender Open Housing?
There are many other housing options available on campus that are traditional co-ed. Additionally, there is one all women’s residence hall and one all men’s. Since roommate assignments are based on student preferences, your student will not be placed with a roommate of a different gender unless this is something they are comfortable with. While Northwestern University respects parents' involvement in their children’s lives, students are seen as adults with the freedom to choose their own housing. However, staff in the Residential Services office would be happy to meet with your student to discuss the available housing options, what each type of housing means, etc.
FAQ for Parents/Families: What if my student has a roommate that they're uncomfortable living with because of their gender?
Since housing selection is based on individual preferences, every student should be assigned a roommate with whom they feel comfortable. If for some reason a student isn't comfortable with their roommate, they can talk to their Resident Assistant or Resident Director, about different ways to address the situation. The first step may be conflict resolution/mediation, and if necessary may include changing rooms. All situations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.