How USF Housing accommodates nonbinary Bulls

The Stonewall Suites in Beacon Hall and Holly C are popular options for nonbinary students. ORACLE PHOTO/JULIA SAAD

Sophomore Blake Ruiz, a computer science major, wasn’t sure how to go about finding housing as a nonbinary student their freshman year.

“After I applied for housing, I emailed the housing department to see if I could live with someone who was also nonbinary,” Ruiz said. “I met one of my best friends after someone from housing emailed me their contact.”

Gender-neutral restrooms on each floor of Castor Hall and a new close friend made their first year better than they expected. 

Related: Trans students fear new USF bathroom rule: ‘Treated as a whole different species’ – The Oracle

Although USF has no official procedures for accommodating nonbinary students living on campus, genderqueer students have several options when choosing a dorm.

The housing application allows students to select what gender they identify with: male, female or nonbinary. 

During random roommate selection, students do not have the option of choosing which gender they prefer to live with unless they live in the Stonewall Suites, a Living Learning Community (LLC) in Beacon Hall and Holly C.

Nonbinary students can live in any residence hall. Unless they live in the Stonewall Suites, they typically must live in a dorm with someone who is the same sex as they were assigned at birth.

The Stonewall Suites, established in the fall of 2018, is a residence hall where LGBTQ+ students and allies can bond over their shared identities, beliefs and experiences, according to the USF Housing website.

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When filling out their housing application, Riley Hayes, a freshman majoring in psychology, made sure to apply for the Stonewall Suites.

“I only really felt comfortable selecting a random roommate because I knew I would be paired with someone with a similar identity,” Hayes said.

Hayes was paired with their current roommate, who is not nonbinary but part of the LGBTQ+ community. The two have become good friends and often take part in the events the Stonewall Suites has to offer, like movie nights and dinners.

USF Housing spokesperson Andrew Johnson said the housing department will often reach out to nonbinary students during random roommate selection. 

Johnson said housing will try to accommodate a nonbinary student in the case they are more comfortable living with a roommate of the opposite sex as they were assigned at birth.

Assignment coordinators will typically try to pair students of the same gender identity together and will introduce potential roommates to one another before assigning a room, according to Johnson.

“Being able to come in and sit down with one of our assignment coordinators has been very helpful for students when they have personalized questions,” Johnson said.

For students living in traditional rooms, gender-neutral restrooms are available in every residence hall on campus.

If random roommate selection doesn’t feel like the best option, students can also look for roommates through social media like Instagram or Facebook or BullsConnect.

Instagram and Facebook have accounts and groups where students can post themselves alongside information about themselves. From there, prospective roommates can reach out.

Social media provides a self-directed roommate search, complementing the personalized assistance from USF’s housing staff crucial for nonbinary students like Ruiz.

“Being able to discuss my needs and concerns directly with the housing coordinators made a big difference in my experience on campus,” Ruiz said. “They really took the time to understand my situation and helped me find a roommate and a living environment where I felt safe and respected.”