NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — New Jersey’s flagship state university has decided to allow male and female students to share rooms in three dorms in an effort to make the campus more inclusive for gay students after a highly publicized suicide last year.
Starting this fall, all students — whether gay, lesbian, transgender or heterosexual — can choose either male or female roommates under the pilot program. Men and women will share bathrooms.
A similar, but smaller, pilot program is being launched at the Newark campus.
A number of other schools, including the University of Maryland, New York’s Columbia University and Washington’s George Washington University, offer similar housing options, according to the National Student Genderblind Campaign.
The organization is pressing for more programs like them, saying they’re a way for students to have roommates they’re comfortable with.
Rutgers got wide attention last year after freshman Tyler Clementi killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. Authorities say that days before, his roommate in a dorm used a webcam to capture Clementi during an intimate encounter with another man.
The roommate and a third freshman have been charged with invasion of privacy in the case. Their lawyers say they’re not guilty of any crimes.
Gay student groups have pushed for Rutgers to be friendlier to gay, lesbian and transgender students — including by offering gender-neutral housing — since Clementi’s death.