(CNSNews.com) - Dartmouth College is expanding its "gender neutral" housing program, opening up more rooms where "students of any gender can cohabitate," the school newspaper, The Dartmouth, reported last week.
The Ivy League school's website says Dartmouth "seeks to provide a living environment welcoming to all gender identities; one not limited by the traditional gender binary."
The school's Director of Housing Rachael Class-Giguere is quoted as saying that gender-neutral housing options have been available on campus since 2007. (A growing number of colleges now offer such options.)
Recently, Dartmouth's Housing Office has seen “a lot of interest” in more options for male-female cohabitation on campus, one student told the newspaper.
The college also offers a separate gender-neutral "affinity" program," which caters to people who identify with a gender other than the one they were born with.
Students in the affinity program live together on the same floor and participate in events where they can "learn about and explore gender identity and expression in a supportive environment."
People who wish to join the gender-neutral affinity program must fill out a special application, which asks, among other things, if a student is male, female, or intersex. It also poses the question, "Do you have a third-person pronoun you prefer to be addressed by? If so, which one?"
Dartmouth says traditional, single-sex housing will continue to be available on campus -- "because it is a priority for some students," Class-Gigure told the paper.
For the class of 2014, Dartmouth says it received 18,778 applications, and of that number, 1,139 students were enrolled.
Undergraduate tuition, room, board and mandatory fees run around $55,365 a year.
According to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2009-2010 school year, 1,142 Dartmouth students, or 27 percent of its student body, received federal student loans. The average loan was $4,995, for a total of $5.7 million.
652 Dartmouth students in the 2009-2010 school year also received federal Pell Grants, averaging $3,986 for each grantee and totaling about $2.6 million.
So the taxpayer tab for student loans in 2009-2010 was $8.3 million.
The federal aid came despite the fact that Dartmouth's endowment earned an investment return of 18.4 percent for the 2011 fiscal year, helping to boost the value of the endowment by $415 million to $3.41 billion as of June 30, 2011.
Dartmouth noted that the FY 2011 investment return marked the second consecutive year of double-digit growth, following a 10 percent return for FY 2010.
Dartmouth says its endowment funds approximately 20 percent of the College’s annual operating budget. Programs supported by the endowment include Dartmouth’s need-blind financial aid and academic, research, athletic, recreational, and cultural programs.