Co-ed residences: The new norm at SU?

Ingrid Heÿdenrÿch

Single-sex residences may be a thing of the past for Stellenbosch University (SU). According to Pieter Kloppers, director of the centre for student communities, all new residences that will be built at SU in the future will be co-ed.

“In order to optimise student experiences, which include gender inclusivity, there should be a balance between the amount of residences that are single-sex and those that are co-ed,” said Kloppers.

This means that there will no longer be single-sex residences built at SU. In a recent survey of PSO students, when asked if they would prefer coed or single-sex residences, 68,93% of students answered that they would opt for co-ed. Martin Viljoen, SU spokesperson, said that there are currently no plans for existing single-sex residences at the university to be transformed into co-ed residences.

However, all construction that will take place at single-sex residences will allow for these residences to be transformed into co-ed residences in the future. This is due to all new building plans that must meet the requirements of the regulations of higher education.

This raised questions about Helshoogte men’s residence changing to co-ed in the next few years, since building plans set to take place next year involve the construction of bathrooms with separated showers. The showers at Helshoogte are currently open.

Students from other residences on campus have mixed feelings about the move towards implementing co-ed residences.

Carli van Wyk, prim of Irene, said that she recognises the need for more co-ed residences to be built, however the problem does not necessarily lie with who stays in a residence, but rather how much space there is for students in the residences.

“There is not enough space for the amount of students that prefer to stay in residences. The price of private student housing in Stellenbosch is also a big problem. Options for more affordable accommodation for students need to be explored.”

Lampie Fick, prim of Majuba, said that he is not against the idea of coed residences but he is “unsure of how the funding will work”. Fick added that there is potential for a lot of growth, but it may not be feasible enough to implement it.

Rhys Williams, recently elected prim of Metanoia, said that discussions are starting to take place amongst the House Committee (HK) regarding the move of floors and sections to co-ed, and later the move to mixed bathrooms. “We currently lack a space for our transgender students, and a concern for all residences on campus is the issue of inclusivity. In discussing single sexresidences, you begin dissecting traditions based in generations where people didn’t necessarily understand the importance of equality,” said Williams.

Lwando Nkamisa, Student Representative council (SRC) chair for 2017/2018, said that he thinks it is “about time” for SU to address the issue of co-ed residences.

“If you look at universities in places such as America, Stellenbosch is behind the rest of the world. Coed residences is not a bad solution. Metanoia is by far the most progressive residence in Stellenbosch, and it is because they have a diverse mixture of people,” he said.

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