GI students continue to express frustration with ResLife over bias incidents and gender-inclusive housing 

Fairfield Way has been a popular spot for students to air their voices and arrange meetings. Students looking to hold UConn accountable to fix issues should also utilize social media to find additional times to meet. Photo by Jayden Colon/Daily Campus.

Students at the University of Connecticut have continued to express dissatisfaction over how Residential Life has been handling bias incidents on campus, including continued disapproval over the gender-inclusive housing process. 

Currently, gender-inclusive housing is located on several floors of the Brock Residence Hall located in the Alumni Quad. These co-ed floors allow students of all gender identities to live together in a more comfortable and safe living environment, according to ResLife’s website. Students must request to live in GI housing. 

Mads Carey, a non-binary first-year DMD major, said ResLife did not accommodate their first-year dorming experience by denying them gender-inclusive housing at Brock. 

“I was assigned to an all-girls floor, so that in itself already presents a problem for me because I had signed up for the gender-inclusive learning community and there’s limited spaces,” Carey said. “That’s already a problem if you’re putting a non-binary person in an all-girls building, like they say that they care about transgender students but then they’re like, ‘we have limited spaces and GI and traditional dorming is assigned by biological sex.’ So that’s already an issue as a non-binary person. Every day was a struggle, every time I used the bathroom it said women and that is just not me, and I felt like I didn’t belong there.” 

On top of not being accommodated, Carey said they experienced frequent targeted harassment at the Terry Residence Hall, a part of the Northwest Quad. 

Putting whiteboards out on your door in a dorm building is a common practice but one that can raise problems frequently. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk/Pexles.

“My neighbors and floormates did not respect my gender identity. I had a whiteboard on my door for me and my roommate to use, like little magnets so you can tell people where you are,” Carey said. “Some people would write on it and vandalize it. At first it was just kind of funny, but then it was getting more specific into homophobic language.” 

After frequent vandalism, Carey said they filed a bias incident report with the university. Despite the nature of the vandalism, Carey said that ResLife failed to coordinate a time to meet with them, leaving Carey feeling discouraged. 

“No one seemed to care that I couldn’t be there. And I feel like that response was just like they didn’t really care,” Carey said. 

After the UConn Police Department got involved, with the help of Carey’s other floormates they were able to identify who participated in the vandalism.  

According to Carey, however, because those responsible were a part of the LGBTQ+ community, it could not be classified as a bias incident despite the use of homophobic slurs. Carey said they were also unhappy with ResLife’s punishment for those involved. 

“Their response to the offenders is not necessarily based on punishment, but based on education, and trying to explain why what they did was wrong and how it affects other people… And we’re in college, you should already know that’s wrong,” Carey said. “So really part of my issue is that there really is no educational aspect involved in this because they already know that they’re going out of their way to hurt someone.”  

Carey described other bias incidents, including whiteboard vandalism from other UConn students. They also described an incident involving confronting loud floormates, only to overhear racial and homophobic slurs from other students in the room. 

At this point, Carey said they went to their RA on duty in order to file another bias incident report and request to move to the gender-inclusive dorm. 

“At 4 a.m., I met with the RA on duty, filed a bias incident report and then that’s what incited my move. And what’s really ironic about that is that some of the people that helped me in that process of moving are also part of the problem,” Carey said. 

Carey explained that while some of ResLife’s staff were very helpful, others misgendered them. While Carey said some staff did apologize once they realized their mistakes, Carey believes the entire issue is a societal one that needs more attention. 

“We always make assumptions based on appearances. That is pretty standard. But I think more people need to be aware of these kinds of issues and the way that it affects people,” Carey said. 

Other students have come forward with very similar experiences across campus. Last reported by The Daily Campus in September, other students cited issues with ResLife not properly accommodating them in times of emergency. 

Several other students, who wish to remain anonymous, also described problems they had with ResLife.  

One person described having to sleep on a friend’s floor for a week due to ResLife’s slow move-in time to the GI dorm, despite explaining that it was an emergency. Others discussed not having advocates for the GI community in ResLife and cited specific ResLife staff members as not caring about GI-specific issues. 

In regards to the claim that bias incidents on campus tend to be dealt with in an educational manner, ResLife confirmed this is true. 

Associate Dean of Students John Armstrong explained that while all bias referrals are reviewed for criminal violations or violations of the student code, many do not meet that threshold. This leads to ResLife normally taking an “educational,” non-punitive approach to punishments. 

“All bias referrals are reviewed for a criminal violation or violation of the student code. The majority of referrals received do not meet this threshold, and as such the process does not involve an investigation or sanctioning,” Armstrong wrote. “Bias incidents/graffiti/images may indicate a need for education in our community in order to remedy harm done, and to provide opportunities for reflection and growth. Such educational efforts are not part of the investigation process and are not intended to be punitive.” 

Interim Director of Community Standards Kim Beardsley-Carr further confirmed that the bias incident process on campus is dealt with mostly in an educational manner rather than with punitive punishment, adding that no one has ever been expelled due to a bias incident. 

“The bias process is focused on education and repairing harm. Most of the bias referrals received fall under freedom of speech. We have not expelled someone from housing,” Beardsley-Carr said. 

When asked to describe a typical response to a slur being written on a whiteboard, Interim Director of Student Welfare Sheila Morgansmith outlined the non-punitive measures community staff can take. 

“An appropriate response could include a community email, a community meeting and any follow up needed from those efforts. We have used aspects of a restorative practice approach and would encourage community members to come together and express how these events have affected them,” Morgansmith said. 

Floor meetings are up to the RA’s of individual floors but can often come in response to discrimination or other broken rules. The effectiveness of such meetings varies. Photo by Moe Magners/Pexels

While multiple people have said that they have been denied access to GI housing, ResLife was not aware of anyone having been denied.  

This year, GI-housing demand was less than 100, according to ResLife. 75 applications came from continuing students, of which 55 ended up selecting or being assigned to GI-inclusive housing. There were also 13 applications from newly admitted students. 

Interim Co-Executive Director of Residential Life Kimberly Proulx said that they work with students to find the most suitable place for them on campus. 

“To our knowledge we have never denied anyone; if students indicate the GI 

floor may not be the best option for them, we do work with students individually or in 

pairs to identify other spaces on campus that may meet their needs (in Honors, LCs, 

apartment options, etc.). If students decline, we may work with them individually or they 

may choose to go into selection and choose with a student that has the same legal sex 

listed as them,” Proulx wrote.  “We also received information from the Registrar that any student can update their identified gender with their office, and it updates the following day; we had some students do this for this year’s process and they were able to select with a student as their roommate as they changed their legal sex listing.” 

Carey concluded the interview by discussing ways they believe ResLife could improve gender-inclusive living on campus in response to their experience.  

Carey noted that while ResLife handled their move to the gender-inclusive living community in a responsive manner, they believed a more appropriate response to bias incidents would help deal with them more effectively. 

“Something important to note about ResLife is that I was really dissatisfied with the way that they handled the first situation. But, now that I’ve actually been moved out, I feel a lot better about the response,” Carey said. “But at this point, I really don’t know how much they can do. Because, like I said, they’re focused on education, but the offenders should know that this is already wrong. So, I feel like the best thing that they can do, because they already should know, is to actually have some kind of punishment that affects them in a greater way so that they actually learn the lesson. It’s unfortunate that they had to move me out of that space instead of being able to effectively deal with the problem.” 

Carey also added that they believe that the entire campus should be gender-inclusive. 

“I believe that the entire campus should be gender inclusive. It shouldn’t just be limited to one or two floors of one residence hall. That really just doesn’t feel fair. Like as a non-binary student at the beginning of the year, there weren’t enough spaces for me to be a part of the community to live comfortably. And that really doesn’t sit right with me. I think no matter where you are on campus, you should have the right to feel comfortable with where you’re living,” Carey said. 

This article has been edited on Friday, April 28, 6:05 to correct an incorrect name.


  1. While this article is wonderful, I genuinely question the truth of these statements made by reslife. I live in GI and I personally know several students who have been specifically denied a position in GI housing while there is an abundance of cisgender students in rooms who, quite frankly, do not need those rooms as much as trans and nonbinary students do.

  2. This still does not make any real sense. Trans is a process it doesn’t mean it’s how you identify yourself after the operation. If you are a man who wants to become a woman or a woman that wants to become a man that’s fine, you have the surgery and then you are done. I accept the concept of gender reassignment surgery for what it does. As for non-binary that still makes very little sense because it’s generally one or the other. Intersex which is both is extremely rare.

    None of this at all contributes to the actual academic well-being of the campus. As somebody that does employ people I could care less about this material as it does not pertain to anything that creates a form of value meaning or purpose

  3. Man, these are some confused people, wha the blazes?! Can’t be punished because they are LGBTQ? So a white dude harassing a white dude can’t be punished? Reality is going to suck when they get out in the world!

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