To the Editors:

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about gender-neutral housing. A common question is why, if there exists an exception clause, has this initiative been put forth?

Residential Life's exception clause provides students an opportunity to explain their exceptional circumstances in order to gain consideration in the lottery. However, this exception clause presents two issues.

Firstly, in order to make use of the exception clause, any student who feels he/she cannot enter the traditional lottery because of his/her/hir gender identity, gender expression, sex, or sexuality must out him/herself to ResLife. This places a tremendous burden on any such student. The prerogative to come out should rest only with the queer individual. No restrictions, boundaries, or rules should force anybody to come out before he/she feels ready.

One might say that ResLife is friendly, making it easier to take advantage of the exception clause. But that does not change the fact that being forced to come out in order to assure one's well-being is a violation of fundamental personal privacy.

Additionally, one might wonder what problem the exception clause presents to an already out student. This brings me to my second point. There are plenty of vocal, proud, out queer students on this campus.

But the existence of an exception clause creates a distinct sense of "otherness" surrounding these students. It creates a notion of "exception," of "other," of "different."

This sense of "otherness" also extends to any straight people who may want to live with someone of the opposite gender. Bowdoin should not be a place that segregates difference. It should be a place where diversity is embraced, integrated, and treated with respect. Thus the existing exception clause does not serve the residential needs of this campus.


Elsbeth Paige-Jeffers '10