SA bill for gender-neutral housing to be introduced

A student organization is pushing for students’ rights to choose their roommates – regardless of gender.

The president of Allied in Pride, junior Michael Komo, serves as the senator-at-large for the Student Association and plans to introduce a bill to launch gender-neutral housing, a policy that would allow male and female students to room together. Many colleges and universities, including Brown, Princeton, Stanford, and Syracuse, have enacted or are experimenting with similar policies.

“Other schools do it. We are scooping up the schools that have it, doing our research now, and coming up with a proposal,” Komo said.

Komo said the bill will be introduced in January.

Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said the University had no current plans to introduce gender-neutral housing to the residence halls, saying that as of now, “The concept of gender-neutral rooms for unmarried undergraduates is not under active consideration.”

Komo said the point of the bill is to allow all GW students the right to choose their roommates regardless of gender, regardless of age and to apply the policy to all dormitories. Even if a bill passes the Student Association Senate, however, the University is under no obligation to comply with the student body’s wishes.

The current housing program does not do enough to address the needs of LGBTQ students, many of whom would prefer to be given the choice to room with members of the gender that they can best relate to, Komo said. One living and learning cohort does currently allow gender-neutral housing, Komo said. Students in that LLC live in a townhouse.

As a result, Komo said, many students are unofficially checking out of their assigned rooms and living with other friends – who may or may not be of opposite gender.

“We are all adults,” Komo said. “In the real world anybody can live with anybody. Why should it be any different for students?”

Komo also said the bill will consider those students who do not want to room with members of the opposite sex by applying the policy only to students who request to live with the opposite gender. Students who opt for random roommate selection would not be affected.

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