BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For the first time, student couples of the
opposite sex at the University at Buffalo will be able to live
together in on-campus housing. UB Campus Living will introduce
gender-neutral housing into student campus residence halls and
apartments in the fall.
The new program will set aside two floors in Ellicott Complex as
gender neutral, in addition to several apartments in Hadley and
Creekside Village, as well. The designated housing will be
available to all UB students, including incoming freshmen.
Unlike traditional housing which separates students by sex,
gender-neutral housing will allow male and female students to live
within the same resident halls and campus apartments. UB is the
only university in Erie County to implement this housing option,
though many colleges and universities throughout the U.S. have
offered gender-neutral housing for several years.
"The role of the university is not to determine with whom
students may or may not live, but rather to empower its students to
make their own decisions responsibly," said Andrea Costantino,
director of campus living at UB. "In today's society there is no
reason why someone should not be living with whom he or she feels
The housing is anticipated to attract a broad range of students,
from those who identify with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
(LBGT) to those who wish to live with their friends of the opposite
Brian Haggerty, senior associate director of campus living,
anticipates that the only difficulty the program will run into is
dealing with minor conflicts between roommates who are romantically
"I do think the traditional housing that we offer meets the
needs of the majority of our students," said Haggerty. "But if we
only cater to the majority, then the rest of our students are
missing what they need to be successful."
While this is only the pilot year, the program is off to a
successful start: the designated campus apartments have already
filled and the residence halls are approaching capacity, Haggerty
Trey Ufholcz, graduate student in the School of Social Work, has
been instrumental in the development of the program.
Ufholcz, a social work graduate student and MSW intern who is
completing his field placement at the UB Gender Institute under
associate director Patricia Shelly, was working on a thesis about
homelessness and the lack of safe housing for LGBT youth in Erie
County, when he realized students at UB were experiencing similar
"I became interested while working at the Heart Foundation. We
encountered a lot of LGBT youth who were homeless, but they weren't
recognized as being homeless because they were couch surfing at
friends and neighbors homes," said Ufholcz. "But I felt I needed to
start here at UB and make the campus a welcoming place for LGBT
students before going into the community."
Ufholcz, a transgender student, teamed up with Haggerty and
James Bowman, special populations outreach coordinator in UB's
Student Health and Wellness Center, to develop a proposal covering
research on the importance of gender neutral housing on college
campuses, and ideal practices to use in the program.
Realizing that the voices of other UB students should be
included in the proposal, Ufholcz created the Student Advocacy
Group to gather student opinions about what needed to be changed in
However, he soon recognized that a significant portion of the
group's issues pertained to transgender students. In response he
created a branch under the Student Advocacy Group called, UB
TransAction, to provide them with a voice as well.
The proposal laid the groundwork for an executive summary
Haggerty presented to Dennis Black, UB's vice president for
university life and services, who approved the option.
The implementation of gender-neutral housing has been in
planning for almost two years, and if all goes well, it will be
expanded next year to include more housing units at the university,