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Housing applications from student couples on the rise

STANFORD -- Applications for student couples housing at Stanford University have risen by 81 over this time last year, due in part to the university's new domestic partners student housing policy, according to the Stanford Housing Center.

The policy, which was announced last fall by the Dean of Student Affairs, puts committed unmarried student couples on the same footing as married couples for Stanford housing and other privileges.

Before the policy change last fall, joint housing was granted to unmarried Stanford students and their partners on a case-by-case basis.

A total of 466 couples have applied for one-bedroom apartments on campus this fall, compared to 385 last year, and 428 in 1989.

Of this year's couples, 68 have declared themselves to be in established long-term domestic partnerships "with a mutual commitment similar to that of marriage." That compares to four unmarried couples who sought joint housing last year.

Three of those new domestic-partner applicants are same-sex couples, about the same number that petitioned for joint housing before the policy went into effect.

The number of married student couples applying also increased, from 385 to 398.

"These are about the numbers that we anticipated," said Bill Georges, assistant director of the Housing Center. "We do not think they will have a significant impact on assignments this fall."

Stanford allots its on-campus housing each spring through a lottery system. Last year, because of the construction of the new Rains graduate student housing complex, there was a surplus of one-bedroom apartments in Escondido Village, and every couple that requested housing received it in the lottery.

This year, about 40 couples were left over after the spring lottery assignments were made. However, most who decide to join the waiting list will receive housing in time for fall, Georges said.

"We typically have more than 50 couples refuse assignments over the summer," he said. "That provides spaces for the couples who are unassigned."

The new policy will have minimal effect on the availability of housing for single graduate students, he added. Even though there are 739 single grad students still on the waiting list for housing this fall, few want to be doubled up in the one-bedroom apartments.

"We've traditionally had a large number of vacancies in those apartments during the year," Georges said. "We're pleased to assign them to couples, because that's who they were originally intended for."

The new policy was enacted to ensure that students would not have to choose between their domestic commitments and their studies, and to affirm Stanford's policy of not discriminating against students on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The move was praised by Stanford gay and lesbian students and others, who had been working to obtain official benefits for their domestic partners since the mid-1970s.

Opposition to the policy -- one of the first of its kind in the nation -- was voiced strongly at the time by many religious and international students, and by some alumni.



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