As the University of Sheffield prepares to introduce LGBT+ only accommodation, the director of the country's largest student accommodation service has warned it could lead to student 'segregation'.
Last month, Women's Officer for Sheffield Students' Union, Celeste Jones, confirmed the university would be offering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender + (LGBT+) only accommodation from September this year, in a bid to 'offer students a safe space to be themselves'.
It is believed that the University of Sheffield would be the first in the country to offer such accommodation.
Simon Thompson, director of Accommodation for Students, has now claimed the decision could segregate and divide student communities.
He told The Telegraph: "University is about opening your horizons and meeting people from different cultures, different backgrounds, different sexualities, everything."
Mr Thompson added: “I think it’s a disadvantage if people close themselves off and don’t socialise with straight people. It just seems madness to me.”
Ms Jones attempted to address the issue of segregation in her announcement about the accommodation.
"By no means is this accommodation compulsory, nor do we wish to encourage segregation, but we feel it is extremely important that our students have the choice of living in LGBT+ only accommodation if they so desire. Even if just a tiny fraction of LGBT+ students feel this will benefit their University experience then we feel it is all entirely worthwhile. The offer allows our students the choice of living with people from the LGBT+ community and offers a safe space for students to be themselves. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in their own homes and should be able to be themselves and we believe this will make a huge difference in our students’ lives," said Ms Jones.
She added: "We strive to ensure that all University accommodation is LGBT+ inclusive; bullying and harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. However, LGBT+ students have felt that their experience in university accommodation would be improved by having the option to live in LGBT+ specific accommodation."