Students push nondiscrimination bill

A resolution to include transgender students in the University’s nondiscrimination policy will move on for approval by the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees this month, said Student Association Sen. Michael Komo, U-at-Large.

The bill, already passed unanimously by the Student Association senate and the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students, will add the words “gender or identity expression” to the GW’s Student Code of Conduct nondiscrimination policy if passed again.

“We could win the battle of making the nondiscrimination policy trans inclusive by May 15, 2009, if we are successful the rest of the way,” said Komo, a sophomore and vice chair of the SA Student Life Committee.

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will meet to vote on the bill on April 24, Komo said. If successful there, it will come before the full Faculty Senate on May 8.

After five years of student efforts to pass the bill, Komo said it is now time to take serious action.

“We cannot fall short of our goal, especially when we have gotten closer than ever to get this passed,” Komo said. “It is our duty to make sure that every single student is protected at this school – no exceptions. Students have worked too hard for too long to not see this resolution succeed.”

Junior Devin Alston-Smith, a transgender student who has been public about alleged discrimination within the Greek-letter community, said he is hopeful for the bill’s passage.

“If discrimination does occur, the added language will justify a clear course of action as opposed to the muddled response that the University currently provides,” Alston-Smith said.

After the difficulties he encountered in pursuing discrimination charges with the University Police Department in the fall, Alston-Smith said he also feels that the proposed addition to the nondiscrimination policy is a needed policy change that will force the administration to take more definitive action in similar cases in the future.

Still, Alston-Smith said he fears that the Board of Trustees will fail to approve the amendment at their meeting on May 15.

In preparation for this meeting, Komo said that Allied in Pride, with the support of other student organizations, will write letters to the Faculty Senate and Board of Trustees in support of the amendment. The group will also try to gain support for the bill through phone banking, he said.

“This resolution could and will impact the lives of several students at GW,” Komo said. “This is a huge deal. If we are successful, then all students at GW will finally have the protection they need and deserve.”

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