After the establishment of all-gender dorms at many peer boarding schools, including Andover, Exeter, and Choate, a similar housing option is on the horizon at Loomis Chaffee.
Possibilities of an all-gender housing have been discussed by the school administration and faculty for over two years, and will hopefully come to fruition next year, according to Ms. Liscinsky, Dean of Student Life. A group of Loomis faculty has also been involved in a committee solely dedicated to this initiative as well.
The goal of gender-neutral dorm centers around the inclusiveness on campus, and how students can feel their belonging and comfort at Loomis. “It’s a safe space where people don’t have to worry about identifying as one gender or another.” Mr. DeConinck, Associate Director of Studies, commented on the potential all-gender dorm. The dorm being one of, if not the most, important places for a boarding student on campus, it is crucial to one’s experience and sense of belonging at Loomis.
The necessity for such a dorm also seems to exist and increases over time, as more people start to identify with non-binary or non-conforming genders. “I know that there is a good amount of students who are extremely interested in the prospect of the said dorm,” said Kassie Rivera ’21, president of Spectrum. Ms. Liscinsky also added that admissions are often asked similar questions by prospective students and families.
While such prospect of accommodating everyone seems beneficial, many obstacles and problems could arise. “it’s a lot harder than just saying let’s have a co-ed dorm. There’s a lot of details and planning to do.” Maral Asik ’20 put it in other words. When asked about potential challenges, Mr. DeConinck asked about the major concern: “Having multiple genders in the same school, are high school students ready for that?” Most colleges have had co-ed dorms for a long time, but both because of age and logistics, the situation for high school students is different. “The interdorm policies can become stricter for [all-gender] dorm, which could deter people away,” said Kate Shymkiv ’22. The interdorm policies and supervisions are some of the major concerns of people, and that students could take advantage of a system like this. Besides the complications of an all-gender dorm for high school students, there are also issues that Loomis as an educational institution should consider.
Max Rosenberg ’21 explained the heavy costs that relate to planning, converting and maintaining an all-gender dorm, and said: “While it would be nice to accommodate each and every student’s housing needs, the idea that we, as an educational institution, should invest a large stream of resources towards an issue that doesn’t exist on campus is excessive at best.”
With the many challenges of establishing an all-gender dorm and the concerns, the administration hopes to create a more inclusive environment and is working with faculty on the details of the gender-neutral housing on the Island. “I’m very optimistic about it. Other schools have had great success.” Ms. Liscinsky said.