SA Senate passes bills on gender-neutral housing, LGBT studies

The Student Association Senate passed a bill to support gender-neutral housing on campus Tuesday night in a “clear victory” for student rights, said SA Sen. Michael Komo, the sponsor of the bill.

“I’m absolutely elated, we’ve been working on these issues for literally years now,” said Komo, U-At Large.

SA President Julie Bindelglass said she will sign the bill, and told The Hatchet that she looks forward to lobbying the University with SA senators for its implementation.

Even with the SA’s seal of approval, the University will have the final say over whether to go forward with a gender-neutral housing plan, which would allow students to live together, regardless of gender.

The bill passed 19-11, with several senators abstaining from voting.

The bill was amended in several places before the final vote took place, changing some of the most contentious language that some senators had objected to during debate. The final bill no longer requires at least one gender-neutral residence hall per class, and does not call for gender-neutral housing to be implemented for the 2010-2011 year.

Komo said he believed the last-minute amendments helped sway a few more senate votes.

“I think some people on the fence saw that I was willing to give a little,” Komo said.

First introduced on the floor last week, the bill was tabled for further review. Tuesday’s meeting was a special meeting called for the purpose of voting on the housing bill and on a second resolution calling for the creation of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender studies minor.

The resolution in support of the LGBT studies minor passed in a vote of 23-7.

The meeting drew about a dozen students who spoke during the public comment session, giving their support and opposition to both bills.

Freshman Carlos Vazquez urged his senators to vote against the gender-neutral housing bill, arguing that traditional-minded students would be “turned off” by a school with a policy allowing students of different genders to live together.

“A lot of minorities are very conservative-minded and parents would not feel comfortable sending their children to a school with these types of policies,” Vazquez said.

Junior Anna Crabbe supported the bill, and questioned the priorities of some of the students who spoke before her.

“I’m not sure why you think somebody else’s parents are your business, or why somebody else’s rooming choices are your business,” Crabbe said in support of the bill.

Debate for the gender-neutral housing bill was limited to 30 minutes and took place after the one-hour debate over LGBT studies.

Sen. Anthony Marenna, CCAS-U, said he was “not convinced” there was a demand for gender-neutral housing, and Sen. Chris Clark, SoB-U, said he was concerned about the amount of money the plan could cost the University. Clark also added that couples choosing to live together could cause problems.

Sen. Logan Dobson, CCAS-U, brushed aside the potential for increased roommate clashes.

In his role as a House Scholar, Dobson said, “I don’t charge by the roommate conflict.”

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