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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

University says Fischer previously was option for trans students

The apartments at Fischer Graduate Residences have served as an residential option for transgender students, associate vice president for residential life Heather Rakoczy Russell told The Observer in an interview.

Transgender students could be assigned to a dorm aligned with their assigned sex at birth, move off campus or “they have the option to live at Fischer Graduate residences, with or without a roommate,” Russell said.

The interview came ahead of the University’s announcement that it would be establishing the undergraduate community at Fischer (UCF), billed as a “new residential community for undergraduate women and men, opening in Fall 2023” in a Feb. 1 announcement. The UCF will house 80 students in the on-campus two-resident apartments with private bedrooms. 

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Courtesy of Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame
The Fischer apartments housed mostly graduate students in the 2021-2022 school year, with some undergraduate women living there as well.


Discussing how the University has approached transgender or gender non-conforming applicants, vice president for undergraduate enrollment Micki Kidder explained that the Notre Dame supplement to the Common App now includes a question about sex at birth.

Russell discussed how residential life has approached these issues, mentioning how most transgender first-years choose to live in an on-campus dorm as opposed to the other two options.

“Most of our students in their first year, transgender students, have chosen to be in a residence hall, and we handpick the residence hall based on what we know to be not only a welcoming community… As part of a major renovation or new construction, we have a single user bathroom with a shower near or in a residential section, so that lends itself to more privacy and a more comfortable environment,” she explained. 

In an email, Russell discussed the future of undergrads at Fischer. 

“To echo what Dan Rohmiller, director of residential life for housing operations, provided via email to the Irish Rover regarding the undergraduate community at Fischer, the UCF offers another residential community to our undergraduate students,” she wrote.

Russell said the new community is an “extension of the University’s residential model.”

“The UCF remains committed to student formation and community, and its residents will continue to experience the hallmarks of residential life: a rector and hall staff, students from multiple class years and intentional community building in a unique setting,” she said.

Editor’s note: Alysa Guffey and Maggie Eastland contributed to this report.