Gender-neutral housing bill tabled

The Student Association Senate postponed voting on the gender-neutral housing bill Tuesday night, opting to table the bill after debate on the measure dragged on for 45 minutes.

The senate voted to table the proposal at 11 p.m. after 45 minutes of debate. The Student Life Committee will revise the language to narrow the bill’s scope to a few floors or one residence hall rather than broadly recommend all housing be gender-neutral. The meeting drew more than a dozen students who voiced both support and opposition to the bill, and more who sat along the wall to watch the senate proceedings.

The bill is a resolution of support for a gender-neutral housing option on campus. The University would still have to approve and implement the bill if it passed, and could choose not to move forward with the suggestion.

Sen. Josh Goldstein, CCAS-U, said the bill takes an important step to expand the “Escaping Gender” LLC, which allows male and female students to live in a townhouse together. But Goldstein expressed concern about the “sweeping program” the bill advocates, and suggested a trial with a gender-neutral floor or dorm instead.

“Now that the bill has been tabled, we have the time to go in and make some changes, which I think is important if it has any hope of passing,” Goldstein said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Michael Komo, U-At Large, said he was disappointed that the bill was not brought to a vote.

“We as elected leaders are meant to represent student issues,” Komo said. “It’s unfortunate that we did table it tonight, and I’m looking forward to discussing the issue.”

Komo defended the bill when he introduced it to the senate, charging that the University is in violation of D.C.’s Human Rights Act and its own anti-discrimination policy by not providing proper housing for transgender students.

Sen. Giovanni Tomasi, ESIA-U, disagreed with Komo, arguing the claim was “one lawyer’s opinion.”

“GW doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t say if you are whatever, you can’t have housing,” Tomasi said.

Rohmteen Mokhtari, a junior, was one of the students who came to the meeting in support of the bill. Mokhtari lives in the “Escaping Gender” LLC, which provides housing for a small number of transgender students.

“[Gender-neutral housing] makes it about the individual,” Mokhtari said. “It’s a great opportunity to have a housing arrangement that’s comfortable for all students.”

The senate meeting adjourned before the second bill of the evening, a resolution supporting the creation of an LGBT studies minor, could be discussed.

The next regularly scheduled senate meeting is Feb. 2.

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