Rutgers allows opposite-sex roommates

March 2, 2011 at 2:29 PM

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., March 2 (UPI) -- Rutgers, New Jersey's state university, says it plans to have gender-neutral housing on its New Brunswick campus, a change inspired by a gay student's suicide.

Starting with the fall semester, about 100 students will be able to have opposite-sex roommates in three dorms, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported. They will not have to declare their sexual preference to be eligible, so straight students could share rooms with boyfriends or girlfriends.

Gay and transgender students have been pushing for the change.

"I'm really glad they did it, although I wish it wouldn't have taken as long," said Aaron Lee, a senior who says he is transgender. "We live in a world where in order to be considered a human being you have to be male or female, and not everyone fits into that kind of binary. It's important to have spaces where people don't necessarily have to worry."

The Newark campus also plans to allow opposite sex roommates in the fall, although only three rooms will be included in the pilot program.

A number of universities across the country already allow opposite-sex roommates. At Rutgers, the change is one of the responses to the death of Tyler Clementi, a freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate used a Web cam to film him in a romantic encounter with another man.

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