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University of Oklahoma mixed-gender housing program is a success, officials say

Starting this semester, the University of Oklahoma launched a project in which one wing of the fifth floor of Walker Center was designated as mixed-gender by suite. University officials are working on a proposal that would expand the program in the coming years.
by Silas Allen Modified: October 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm •  Published: October 13, 2012
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University of Oklahoma residential life officials say a new mixed-gender housing program has been successful.

Starting this semester, OU launched a project in which one wing of the fifth floor of Walker Center was designated as mixed-gender by suite.

University officials are working on a proposal that would expand the program in the coming years.

The four-bedroom suites in the wing house two male freshmen and two female freshmen, with a central common area being shared among the four students.

In each suite, the two male students share one bathroom while the two female students share a second bathroom.

Diane Brittingham, OU's director of residence life, said the project has been successful so far, with no major incidents. The students involved in the pilot project have generally held each other accountable for their behavior.

In some regards, Brittingham said, the freshmen who moved into the mixed-gender floor seemed to be more comfortable with the move-in process. Although the students were randomly assigned to rooms, she said, they were more familiar with the situation since they'd volunteered to be a part of the project.

“We've had good response from the students,” she said.

The project came after members of two student organizations — Students for a Democratic Society, and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Friends — approached university officials asking for a gender-neutral housing policy that would allow a specialized housing option for gay and transgender students.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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Background

The project isn't the university's first attempt to integrate male and female students in its residence halls. Last year, OU established a mixed-gender floor in Couch Center. In that project, suites on the floor were designated as all-male or all-female, with male and female suites situated next to each other.

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