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Under QuadEx's 'all-gender housing model,' Baldwin Scholars lose female-only section this year

Traditionally, Baldwin Scholars’ on-campus residential section in Few FF has only housed female-identifying students. But in a change brought about by QuadEx, Duke’s new living and learning initiative, several male students could select rooms in Baldwin’s section this year. 

The Baldwin program, created in 2004, was designed to emulate aspects of a women’s college experience within a coed university and support female-identified undergraduates to "become engaged, confident and connected leaders," according to the program’s website

To that end, scholars live together on West Campus in “a comfortable, supportive residential experience” and the program offers two classes for the cohort. 

The inclusion of male students in Few FF “emphasized our dedication to all-gender housing,”  wrote Dean for Residence Life Deb LoBiondo in an email. Under the QuadEx residential system, male-identifying students were allowed to select unfilled rooms in Baldwin’s section. 

“QuadEx values equity and inclusion, thus our long overdue creation of an all-gender housing model,” LoBiondo wrote. 

LoBiondo said HRL will reexamine these practices moving forward and will continue to provide both single gender and all-gender bathrooms in FF. 

Baldwin Scholar Hana Hendi, a senior, expressed frustration about Housing and Residence Life’s communication of the changes. She noted that Baldwin Scholars were notified about the changes to their section on Aug. 24, only two days before move-in started and five days before fall classes began. 

Hendi said that as a hijabi woman she now feels uncomfortable in her residential space. 

“Having a women's college experience also means that we're comfortable going to the bathroom without our scarf, [or] to the common room not fully covered, for example, because we feel safe amongst people who are female-identifying or non binary,” she said. 

Hendi said that according to an email sent to the cohort from Colleen Scott, the Baldwin program director, male students living in FF were asked to use the bathrooms upstairs.

Scott declined to provide comment for this story. 

This is sophomore Gabriela Pereda’s first year living in Baldwin’s section. When she applied to the scholar program in fall 2021 before QuadEx was formally announced, she was under the impression that Few FF was going to be a section for female and nonbinary-identifying students as it has been in past years. 

Pereda doesn’t feel like the change has a strong negative impact on the Baldwin community. 

“At the end of the day, the common room space is mainly used by Baldwins and we also live near each other,” she said. “It's not a big deal because I'm used to living on a co-ed floor.”

But Hendi said that while she was primarily concerned about “respect of the space and comfortability,” the changes also make it harder for Baldwin scholars to be around like-minded peers. 

“When you are around Baldwins you are centered around social justice, you're centered around being radical and critical of yourself and others,” she said. “Whereas if you are not necessarily in a space that encourages that, because it is not your [Living Learning Community] section, it makes it harder for you to build that community.”

Pereda also emphasized the importance of community.

“Undoubtedly, Baldwin is my favorite part about being at Duke. I’ve found that I have just met people who are exactly like me, in that they're very driven and supportive,” Pereda said. “The residential aspect of it has only added to that experience. I think [Baldwin] obviously wouldn't be the same without it.”

Hendi expressed hope that HRL will work to make sure residential communities regain their sections, but emphasized that “it needs to be something that is a collaboration with students, rather than a top down decision.”

Anisha Reddy | Senior Editor

Anisha Reddy is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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