Passing grade 

Walker Center
Credit: Mark Hancock

“We have heard nothing but positive things,” said Diane Brittingham, associate director of OU housing and food services and director of residence life.

More than 400 freshman applied to live on the coed floor after the opportunity was made available in mid-June; about 60 were selected. The students live in the fifth floor of the east wing of OU’s high-rise Walker Center, south of Lindsey Street in Norman.

Selections were made based on how early the student completed his or her housing application and paid the enrollment deposit.

The coed-floor option came after two years of negotiations between OU administration and students seeking gender-neutral housing, led by Students for a Democratic Society and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer group.

The negotiations accelerated last spring after the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after his roommate posted a video online of an intimate encounter between Clementi and a male friend in their dorm room.

But in June, OU President David Boren turned down the gender-neutral option, which would have allowed different-sex roommates in the same room.

Instead, OU provided the coed floor option, which has different genders living on the same floor, but with same-sex roommates. The pilot program appears to be going well so far.

“We wanted to make sure we worked out all the possible considerations,” Brittingham said.

She said the dorm experience provides benefits to students.

“All of us need to learn how to live with another person … and it’s really a valuable experience,” Brittingham said.

A group of faculty and staff recently checked on how different floors were doing.

“We just kind of roamed the halls during this process,” Brittingham said.

When they visited the coed floor, they found groups of students socializing in the lounge, contrasting with the other floors where students were mostly in their rooms.

She said the university will likely make a decision in the next four weeks as to whether to continue, and possibly expand, coed floor options for next year.

OU has other options available to students, including living with international students and a quiet study floor.


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