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All-womenʼs dorm option removed from housing plan

April 6, 2012

The option to live in an all girls dormitory at UW-River Falls will be removed from the list of housing options next year.

UWRF is following other UW-System schools in the elimination of the all women’s dormitories from their campus housing options. This is a result of low demand by first-year students for the single gender dormitories and high demand for co-ed housing instead.

“I didn’t really want to live in an all-girls dorm,” UWRF sophomore Karlie Fritz said. “It sounds a little bit closed off I guess. I never lived in an all-girls dorm though, just lived on an all girls floor.”

Even though UWRF has typically had more incoming females, the preference towards an all-female hall had declined so much so that the University’s housing department, Residence Life, has decided to make the last allwomen’s hall co-ed.

Up until last year the allwomen’s hall was in Parker Hall, a four-floor dormitory located on the east side of campus, when it was switched to be Prucha Hall, the smallest of all the dorms on campus with three floors. Even with this smaller building, Residence Life only filled 146 of the 178 room assignments possible, meaning that only 82 percent of the building was utilized.

“We were having so much trouble filling Parker with just female requests,” said Director of Residence Life Sandra Scott-Duex. “Our No. 1 complaint after assignment letters went out were first-year freshman who were placed in Parker Hall at that time and were distraught because they were put in an all-girl dorm.”

Scott said that just because the female dorm was turning co-ed, didn’t mean that female floors would be disappearing in campus housing.

In fact, it is mandatory in the UW System’s policy to provide all-female floors so that women can live among their own gender if they would prefer.

“I probably wouldn’t be [upset if I lived on campus next year and the dorm was no longer all female] as long as I can be on a floor with all girls,” said Kathleen McNeil, a UWRF senior who lives in the women’s dorm. “I just wouldn’t like [living on a coed floor], it’s uncomfortable. I feel like if you have a guy Resident Assistant I couldn’t go to them—it would be harder to do.”

In 1964, when the River Falls campus switched over from its status as a Normal School, also known as a college focusing mainly on education, to being part of the UW System, it was a UW System requirement that there be all-male dormitories and all-female dormitories.

According to the UWRF Archive’s website, it wasn’t until late 1969 and early 1970 that the student outcry brought a change to the strict on-campus living arrangements. Up until this point, women living in the dorms had to sign in and out of the buildings, unless they were 21- years-old or older.

Even that condition had just been added in 1966. Also, both men and women had to have approved visiting arrangements with the opposite gender in the dorm buildings. With co-ed living, these conditions were changed and men and women could come and go with in the dormitories as pleased.

Even though UWRF has held both options of a traditional all-women’s dormitory and now co-ed dormitories for women, those in Residence Life have not had any complaints from parents or students about this complete integration.

“We really haven’t had any reactions [to the change],” said Scott-Duex. “Anytime you change something, someone reacts, but no not one.” “Some people are afraid it will be uncomfortable and weird,” said Fritz who now lives on a co-ed floor in Stratton Hall. “But it’s not.”