All first-year residence halls at the University of Richmond will be coed in the 2020-21 academic year, according to the Residence Life & Housing website. This will be the first time single-gender buildings will not be available for incoming first-year students.

Patrick Benner, director of residence life and housing, confirmed in an email statement that all first-year residence halls will be coed, “with students being housed by gender within each hall by floor, pod, or section.” This means students will share bathrooms only with those of the same gender, as all first-year residence halls have hall bathrooms.

The first-year residence halls on campus — Dennis Hall, Lora Robins Court, Marsh Hall, Moore Hall and Wood Hall — were single-gender buildings until the 2017-18 school year, when Lora Robins, Marsh and Wood went coed.

“Over the last three years we have made this transition [to coed halls], with fewer students requesting single-gender housing,” Benner wrote. “We have not seen any negative impact, but rather positive feedback from our students and student staff.”

Sophomore Sabrina Borneff had put down a preference for coed living on her housing survey but was placed in then-single-gender Moore her first year.

Nonetheless, her experience living in Moore was positive, Borneff said. 

“I also like Gray now, [though],” she said. “You walk in and you just see everybody. It’s not as separated.”

Borneff did point out that, logistically, some aspects of single-gender housing are easier. 

“It was nice because you could just walk around in your towel to the bathroom,” she said. “You didn’t have to worry about boys.”

Sophomore Mandy Zhou, who lived in then-coed Wood her first year, recalled a time when a shower drain had clogged. 

“It’s really annoying when you have to walk through the guys’ section to the other side of the hall to take a shower,” she said.

But overall, Zhou said she had not minded the coed housing, because each hall within the building had still been single-gender.

Benner wrote that there had not been any reservations among the housing office staff about the transition to coed. 

“While our buildings are co-ed, students are still housed by gender,” he wrote.

Jonathan Knabe, ’17, said it was weird to imagine coed first-year residence halls. 

“It’s just hard to picture,” he said. “[I] thought it made sense to do all-male, all-female dorms the first year, just because college is kind of crazy already."

But Knabe also pointed out a potential benefit to coed buildings. 

“An all-guys freshman dorm is just crazy,” he said. “So, in a way, maybe having coed would have toned Marsh Hall down a little. I definitely remember it being insane. Halloween weekend our whole hall got destroyed by people who weren’t on our hall, but we had to pay for it.”

Katherine Malanoski, ’17, who worked as a Resident Assistant, agreed. 

“When you have a hall full of boys, it can get really rowdy really fast,” she said. “The guys tended to be more calm if it wasn’t a whole hall full of guys.”

She also said single-gender housing had its upsides, though.

“It creates a safe space and really fosters good friendships,” she said. 

Malanoski lived in the Lora Robins basement her first year and formed friendships with people on her hall that lasted through college, she said.

“I think there’s pretty good benefits of [both single-gender and coed],” she said. “I’d be interested to see what happens in a couple years, like if they’d go back or keep it the same.”

Contact copy editor Caroline Fernandez at caroline.fernandez@richmond.edu.