SA Senate initiates LGBTQ, graduate student caucuses

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Assistant Photo Editor

Sen. Sebastian Weinmann, Law-G, said the graduate student caucus will try to work “specifically” with graduate umbrella organizations to connect graduate school constituencies with administrators.

The Student Association Senate unanimously approved resolutions to create LGBTQ and graduate student caucuses as part of an effort to expand the representation of these groups.

Senators approved three pieces of legislation Tuesday, including guidelines for the Diversity and Inclusion Assembly to create “identity-based caucuses,” establishing two senate caucuses, and approved 10 senators to serve in vice president positions in the executive branch. SA Sen. Sebastian Weinmann, Law-G and a sponsor of the graduate caucus resolution, said the caucus will try to work “specifically” with graduate umbrella organizations to connect graduate school constituencies with administrators.

“These orgs are very effective in advocating for their own constituencies with their own schools’ administrations, but they don’t have a lot of experience in advocating on behalf of their constituencies to the University at large and University administrators,” Weinmann said. “And so one of the goals of this caucus is to help those umbrella orgs do that.”

He said many graduate students worked together during the summer via an “informal” version of the caucus to advocate for an extension of the undergraduate 10 percent tuition reduction this semester to graduate students.

“So although that effort was not successful in securing tuition, I do want this caucus to be continuing those effects as well as other graduate-specific issues,” Weinmann said.

Senators unanimously approved the LGBTQ+ Caucus Creation Act, sponsored by SA Sen. Sam Packer, CCAS-U and the vice chair of the student life committee. Packer said the caucus members will work to amend issues related to transgender and nonbinary students like updating the “complicated” process for students to change the name on their GWorld to their preferred name, increasing gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus and allowing housing to be selected based off of students’ identified gender instead of birth sex.

The caucus members will try to ease the process for transgender students to find resources for gender-affirming physical and mental health care, she said. Packer said the caucus will also reach out to LGBTQ alumni to “expand” the knowledge of LGBTQ education to students and faculty.

“GW has not been sufficiently ensuring that the needs of its LBGTQ students are met,” she said. “The purpose of this caucus is to remedy that by providing a space for LBGTQ+ people and allies to discuss the issues we face and create policy solutions to address these issues.”

Senators also unanimously approved a bill to allow identity-based caucuses to be established under the Diversity and Inclusion Assembly throughout the year and approved 10 new members to vice president positions on executive committees including vice presidents for academic affairs, campus operations and diversity and inclusion.

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