Open Housing

About Open Housing

Open Housing is an arrangement whereby two students, regardless of sex, gender, or gender expression, are permitted to share a room in Columbia’s residence halls. The primary reason for such a policy is to provide housing options that take into consideration varying identities and preferences, and to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all students. Open Housing is not intended—and in fact is highly discouraged—for romantic couples.


Any rising sophomore, junior, or senior in CC or SEAS who is also at least 18 years of age and guaranteed housing may request to participate in Open Housing in any of the residence halls. The option is also available to Barnard students who are at least 18 years of age and guaranteed housing in the buildings that are part of the CU/BC exchange (East Campus, 47 Claremont, and Ruggles). Open Housing is not available to incoming students, including first-year, combined plan, and transfer students.

Although one of the goals of Open Housing is to address tensions often felt by queer and transgender students in finding a compatible roommate, Open Housing exists to allow any two friends to live together, regardless of sex, gender, or gender expression.

Roommate Selection

Open Housing allows any two students to be roommates, regardless of sex, gender, or gender expression. Any upperclass students may seek housing together in any of the residence halls. We will also continue to offer female-only floors.

Like most universities, Columbia discourages students who are in a romantic relationship, regardless of sex, gender, or gender expression, from living together in a residence hall. However, we do not question any student’s reasoning for wanting to live in Open Housing.

Students must fill the room(s) and/or all beds in the suite requested to capacity, i.e. there must be an eligible student applying for every bed in the room(s) and/or suite. If this is not the case, they will drop to Online Selection, in which Open Housing is not an option.

Housing Options and the Selection Process

Open Housing follows the same process as standard Room Selection: sign up for In-Person Group Selection with one or more friends to select into corridor-style doubles or suites in any of the upperclass residence halls. Students must apply with their prospective roommate(s)/suitemate(s) according to the standard Room Selection deadlines.

Just as in standard Room Selection, if students are unable to find a suite or a room, they will drop to Online Selection. There is no guarantee of a specific type of housing in Online Selection and students cannot select Open Housing once in Online Selection.

Students who select a room as part of this process must sign an Open Housing agreement.

Bathroom Style

As suite-style residence halls, suites in East Campus, Ruggles, 47 Claremont, Woodbridge, Watt, River, and 600 West 113th Street have private bathrooms that are shared by all residents. Wien, a corridor-style residence hall, has male- and female-designated bathrooms in addition to one private, single-use bathroom on most floors. 

For a listing of gender-neutral restrooms on campus, please view our interactive map.

Concerns and Questions

If a roommate/suitemate cancels their housing or moves out of the room for any reason, the remaining roommate(s) must identify a new roommate to fill the vacancy. Columbia Housing defines the time allocated to find a new roommate. This window of time will vary depending on the time of year and the status of the housing waitlist. Typically, a resident will be allowed a minimum of 24 hours, but not more than one week to identify another eligible roommate. If another roommate is not identified within that time frame, the room reverts to a same-sex assignment, to be filled by Housing.

The standard room transfer process applies to all residents, whether or not students are participating in Open Housing. Please visit the Transfer or Exchange of Assignment section of the Guide to Living for more information on this process.

Students in Open Housing can also engage directly with a member of the Residential Life staff about roommate difficulties and/or a desire to receive a room reassignment. Please call the main line of Residential Life at (212) 854-6805 to establish direct contact with the appropriate Associate Director and schedule an appointment.

It is a student’s choice to tell their parents or guardian about the decision to live in an Open Housing arrangement. As with all housing decisions, Columbia Housing and the Office of Residential Life encourage students to talk with their parent(s) or guardian about their housing choices. Columbia Housing does not notify parents about the residential choices of students.

Contact Columbia Housing if any questions arise about Open Housing or Room Selection: (212) 854-2946. Students can contact the Community Development team with questions or concerns regarding Open Housing: (212) 854-1836.