MISSOULA – The University of Montana is offering a new housing option for its incoming students.
After a couple of years of work by UM Pride, Miller Hall now offers the first gender-inclusive floor at the University of Montana that provides a safe living environment to the LGBTQ community and its allies.
“One of the things my boss, the director of UM housing asked me to do when I started was to connect with UM pride and really help us make this idea into a reality,” UM housing staffing and programming assistant director John Nugent said.
Students who wanted to be included in the new floor had an option on their housing application for a defined gender-inclusive community that sat next to other community boxes on the application.
“It’s been going great so far. The residents are all very supporting and accepting of each other,” the floor’s RA, Oliver Webb, said. “They’ve expressed that they are very comfortable with new housing and they are very excited as well.”
The choice of a gender-inclusive floor wasn’t available for Webb’s freshman year, who said that having that option could have relieved some of the stress facing a first-year college student.
“My experience last year, we didn’t have this floor as an option, so I was actually on a floor that I did not identify with,” Webb said. “So that kind of caused a lot of stress and anxiety that I normally wouldn’t have to experience if I would have had this floor as an option.”
UM Housing hopes that the new floor will offer a comfortable living environment so students on the floor can focus on all the other things that new college students usually stress about.
“There is a lot of students who are excited to be able to opt into this, and then not have to worry about that aspect of their student experience,” Nugent said. “They will be able to focus on academics. On getting involved. All of the other student transition issues that these students have, just like everybody else.”
UM Housing says that there are currently 24 spots available on the floor, and can add more if needed on a semester-to-semester basis.
Webb, a psychology major, says that the floor has held typical dorm-bonding activities, and they enjoy watching movies together when they are not busy studying.
Story by Connor McCauley, MTN News