SGA approves new Gender Neutral Housing resolution, committee to iron out details
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 17:10
A new gender-neutral housing resolution was passed unanimously at last Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting. This resolution will get the ball rolling on creating a gender-neutral residential environment for students and encourage the university to improve its current policy.
SGA Senator Jessica Thiesen presented a corrected format for her resolution to the previous gender-neutral housing bill that was adopted last year. Thiesen addressed the senate by reading her resolution out loud, taking the floor.
“The reason that it wasn’t fully adopted is...the university is still very hesitant about this idea of cohabitation and men and women living together, and they thought it would deter the recruitment of freshmen,” Thiesen said. “The former head of housing was really uncomfortable with the idea, so that’s essentially why we don’t have it and why, when we originally passed this resolution in another form, not much was done.”
According to Thiesen, this new resolution revolves heavily around coed living and cohabitation, especially regarding transgender students. Thiesen fielded questions and feedback from her fellow Senators regarding the resolution.
One senator asked about the difference between the bill and coed living, inquiring if this would allow male and female students to room together.
“It’s a little bit more gender-inclusive than that, so that people who are transgender or don’t identify with a particular gender, so that they can live with whomever they feel comfortable, and they are not restricted to living in a certain place based on their biological sex,” Thiesen said.
The resolution stressed that because Roosevelt students are adults, they are capable of making important decisions and that the “independent decision-making process and autonomy of the students of Roosevelt University should not be undermined by the school’s administrators...”
More than 30 other universities—including Roosevelt’s neighbors Columbia College and UIC—were listed as having gender-neutral housing options for student residents.
Equality for LGBT students was also among the rhetoric in the resolution, stating that Roosevelt should create a gender-neutral policy that is better than the current setup in order to live up to the university’s reputation as an institution of social justice.
“This is a great start because it will only affect the Wabash Building; we cannot affect the University Center,” said SGA Senator David Muirhead prior to the vote. “I think this is vital in being a diverse university, and if we strike this down, it’s a slap in the face of social justice.”
Ari Shroyer, student trustee, met with the Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Sciences, a group consisting of university alumni, to bring up the resolution.
When Shroyer brought up the resolution and new gender-neutral housing policy that SGA was working on, he said he received skepticism.
“I felt that the concern was not warranted personally because we’re not being unreasonable in this request; we just want as many options as possible and that the options aren’t based on gender,” said Shroyer.
Senator Emily Wilkie voiced her support for the resolution but also offered criticisms of the university and its application of social justice. Wilkie said she had worked in higher education at a wide array of universities, and nearly all of them had some sort of gender-neutral housing policy.
“I move that we do take a vote to this today and that we get the ball rolling because we are behind as an institution that claims to be socially conscious space where everyone should be included,” she said.
Wilkie also pointed out that with the gender-neutral housing system, students have to “opt-in,” meaning not all students would be living in a gender-neutral environment.
“In the current system that they have set up for gender-neutral housing, you have to out yourself; out yourself as maybe gender non-conforming, as transgender, as someone who may have transitioned. And that, in my opinion, is a form of harassment,” Wilkie said.
Thiesen said that a committee regarding the gender-neutral housing resolution and bill will be meeting to hammer out the details of creating and implementing a new gender-neutral housing policy.
The committee’s first meeting is on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 10 a.m. in AUD 406. It is open to all students, faculty and staff.