Interview with Jonathan Karsh ’16

in #12.1/Blog/News Analysis

SW: You will be living in gender-neutral housing next year as part of the first year that RPI is offering it. Why were you interested in gender-neutral housing?

JK: The main reason I’m interested in gender-neutral housing is because I wanted to have a chance to live with a group of people I knew I would enjoy living with and get along with well. I figured that I’d be much more likely to end up living with a group of people I enjoy being around than if I risked the lottery process. Also, I think gender-neutral housing will provide a unique opportunity to gain close interaction experience with people of both genders for longer periods of time akin to a professional workplace after graduating. It’s all about learning to deal with problems that might arise.

SW: ResEd had an application process for students wishing to be a part of gender-neutral housing. Could you elaborate on the process? Did you feel that it was fair?

JK: The only part of the gender-neutral housing application that was different from the group commons process was having each member of the group submit a paragraph-long explanation of why they were interested in participating in gender-neutral housing. I don’t think the application was unfair, but I don’t know if I would necessarily call it fair either. I think it would have been better to have a more in-depth application process. In what way, though, I’m not entirely sure.

SW: How do you feel about getting to be part of the first year that gender-neutral housing is offered? I know that some people, especially LGBT groups, have been trying to get gender-neutral on-campus housing for a while now.

JK: Being part of the first year to participate in gender-neutral housing is exciting for me, but I also feel like there’s pressure on me as well. I’m sure the school will be monitoring the students involved and doing all sorts of reviews to ensure it isn’t having any significant impact on productivity or causing problems. I don’t want to be part of the reason the school stops offering gender-neutral housing. At the same time, though, I’m excited to have the opportunity to show RPI’s deans and administrators that it can work.

SW: Obviously, some people worry that couples will decide to live together. Do you think the application process helped to keep this from happening?

JK: I don’t know if the group of people reviewing the housing applications looked into whether or not the people in each group were in relationships. I’d be willing to bet that RPI certainly took into account the possibility of it happening, but again I can’t be sure. Then again, this is college, and couples live together even without being assigned to the same room—so I don’t think couples would be affected very much if significant resources were invested into preventing it.

SW: If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?

JK: I can’t choose just one. My first of two animals would have to be an otter. Otters are adorable and completely badass. The internet has shown that multiple times over. Tied with the otters would be my dog at home, Zoe. She’s spoiled rotten, and getting to live life in the day of my dog is something I think would be really amazing to experience.