Faculty at East Carolina University are explaining why there is still an all women's residence hall on campus, and why having an all women’s hall is important for the university’s students.
Aaron Lucier, director of housing operations at ECU, said the university still has an all women’s residence hall by the school’s choice and by request of the students. Lucier said Cotten Residence Hall is the only all women’s hall on ECU’s campus.
Lucier said the demand for a women’s only residence hall is high. He said 467 freshmen requested a single gender building last year, but he believes some of those decisions were most likely influenced by parental involvement.
Lucier said ECU always aims to take down barriers which may make students feel uncomfortable, and if having an all women’s hall can accomplish that, ECU is happy to provide it.
“Anything we can do to take a barrier out of a student from feeling uncomfortable in their space is important to us,” Lucier said.
According to Lucier, there are 256 beds in Cotten available to students. He said most students who were assigned to Cotten Hall last year were students who requested the residence hall.
Lucier said although the requests for the all women’s residence hall are high, some people make the request for a single-gender hall and end up not choosing Cotten as their building or they are part of a Living Learning Community (LLC) which cancels their request, so a majority of students who request Cotten are granted the room.
Students placed in Cotten by request or randomly which depends on the year, according to Lucier. He said if request numbers are down, students will be randomly placed in Cotten.
Lucier said another way students may end up in Cotten after not requesting it could be due to their selected roommate choosing the hall. In this case the other person may not have selected Cotten, but they are placed there to stay with their intended roommate.
According to Lucier, ECU was excited to make Cotten all women’s again after making it co-ed in the past, since the building was single-gender historically.
“When we went co-ed in that building some folks were like there goes a tradition,” Lucier said. “So we were glad to move it back there and bring back that tradition.”
Ashley Cleland, associate director of the Women and Gender Office, said all women’s resdience halls hold a special place in her heart after spending her undergraduate years in a women’s hall.
She said some of her closest friends were a result of living in an all women’s residence hall, and some were even bridesmaids in her wedding.
“That was a really big part of my undergraduate experience,” Cleland said. “And I developed some really awesome life-long friendships that way.”
Cleland said she is very immersed in women’s residence hall experiences due to her past as a student and working at the University of South Carolina overseeing an all women’s residence hall at the Carolina Women’s Community there, which housed about 600 women.
“As a professional, I’m very passionate about empowering young women,” Cleland said. “And I see that an all women's residence hall can really provide opportunities for young women to empower one another and take time to build those relationships.”
Cleland said another way for women to experience this kind of community if they don’t end up living in Cotten is to look to the Women and Gender Office or join a sorority.
Natalia Biser, an incoming freshman at ECU, said she thought the idea of an all-women’s residence hall was beneficial for incoming students.
“I just think it would be like a big sisterhood,” Biser said. “I think that’s really cool because my mom lived in Cotten.”