For most of us, last Thursday probably felt like any other weekday. With tests and papers demanding much of our time, it is hard to believe anything good could happen between now and winter break. But for some of our peers, Thursday couldn't have been more exceptional.
These students saw their college experiences change for the better when the University ended its discriminatory policy by establishing a gender-neutral housing option. Never again will our LGBT friends face the unenviable choice between living uncomfortably on campus and finding housing away from our community.
If anyone has ever doubted the usefulness of sustained student activism, this is the perfect example of how activism achieves results. This policy never would have changed without the efforts of organizations like Allied in Pride and the Escaping Gender Living and Learning Cohort, whose relentless advocacy secured the support of the Student Association and motivated students to declare their support in Facebook groups, blog posts and columns in this newspaper. Even Dean of Students Peter Konwerski credits students with "identifying the need" for change.
Every student will have the ability to opt into the program and select roommates of any gender. Almost every residence hall, with the exception of the all-female dorms, will be eligible for these students. These changes are exactly what advocates were asking for. If anything, the decision to include all coed residence halls is more progressive than many students expected.
It is easy to bash GW for taking so long to implement this change, but this is unfair. The University was right to take its time, and we have a better policy for it. Hopefully this deliberation will result in a smooth and hassle-free experience for participants, particularly the transgender students who previously suffered under a system that failed to address their needs.
But at the end of the day, it is our responsibility as students to ensure the success of gender-neutral housing. The administration trusts us to act like adults, and that means not abusing the immense privilege it has granted us. The University is watching, and we must not legitimize the fears of gender-neutral housing's detractors.
For example, do not use this policy to live with your significant other, even if you are sure he or she is "the one." The minute one of your neighbors complains about a loud argument, opponents of gender-neutral housing will make a fuss. Apply for the same residence hall instead, or just live off campus. Your love will survive, but if you abuse this new privilege, the policy may not.
This is everyone's victory, but we must remember that it holds the most significance for our LGBT friends and classmates. Let them finally feel comfortable on campus by respecting the policy, not undermining it at this vital early stage. We knew GW was ready for gender-neutral housing all along. Now let's prove it.
This writer, a senior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.
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