When LSA freshman Elizabeth Roundtree requested a non co-ed floor on her application for student housing, she never thought she”d end up in one of the all-female residence halls on campus.
“I was a little surprised, but it turned out OK,” Roundtree said. “It”s nice, quiet it”s just the same as having an all-girl floor.”
Roundtree is one of the more than 750 students who live in single-sex residence halls on campus Stockwell, Betsey Barbour, Helen Newberry, and the more private Martha Cook and Henderson House.
University Housing Director William Zeller said the demand wasn”t high enough to fill the campus” five all-female residence halls, which required the Housing office to place students in halls that were not their first preference. Only about 500 females chose to live in a non co-ed dorm this year.
But Zeller said that in all housing assignments there are students whose first preferences aren”t able to be met.
“I”ve talked to so many women in the past that were discouraged at first and a month later didn”t want to live anywhere else,” Zeller said.
All-female residence halls are part of the University”s history, Zeller said, and even though demand for single-sex housing appears to be dwindling the University has no plans to make any additional halls co-ed.
“They are very much a part of tradition very much entrenched in campus,” Zeller said. “There is a real segment of the student population that both desires and expects all-female halls.”
Michigan State University no longer has any unisex residence halls, said Sue Brandt, the office assistant for university housing at MSU.
“Many years ago there were some all-female houses, but they all went to co-ed halls,” Brandt said. “Since then we have never really had anyone ask for a separate dorm.”
At Michigan, both new and returning students have the ability to request these residence halls, with the latter group receiving first preference. Those who want to live in either Martha Cook or Henderson House must go through an application process due to the more private nature of these houses, although the only requirement is being a full-time registered student.
Buckle said the all-female halls seem to be more calm than others on campus.
Though these residence halls do not necessarily have more security guards, Zeller said, they seem to have a safer atmosphere, which he attributes to the consciousness of the inhabitants. He said the women are less prone to leave doors propped open or unlocked than those in other halls.
“It”s great,” said LSA sophomore Anuja Garg. “You can wander the hallways. You can look horrible and it”s perfectly OK.”
LSA sophomore Eileen Buckle said she chose to return to an all-female residence hall this year because of the warm family atmosphere.
“All the girls are really nice,” Buckle said. “Though my parents had a say in it, I came on my own. I”m not used to living with boys since I don”t have brothers so this is more comfortable.”
One of the more intimate all-women houses on campus is Martha Cook, known for its sit-down meals and Friday tea parties.
Marion Scher, director of Martha Cook, said the 140 women in her residence hall make up a small community.
“It”s a really friendly place and the girls seem to get to know each other faster,” Scher said. “Mainly there is a tranquil atmosphere in the building.”
The women have the opportunity to participate in family buffets and faculty dinners as well as three semiformals.
Although there are five housing units for women only, the University does not currently have an all-male residence hall.
There are numerous all-male floors throughout campus and an all-male house in West Quad, which Zeller said fulfills the desires of the student body.
An all-male house is not planned for the future.
“We want to continue to work to provide the most attractive housing arrangements for our students,” Zeller said.
“If there was a surge of interest, maybe. We aren”t hearing it at this point.”