2013 housing may be gender inclusive at UT

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Representatives voted for the recommending gender inclusive housing at the University Residence Hall Association meeting Monday.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Students of different sexes may be able to cohabitate in UT residence halls as soon as the fall of 2013. The University Residence Hall Organization, composed of approximately 50 student officers representing all students living on campus, unanimously approved a resolution recommending that the University implement a gender inclusive housing option.

Finance junior John Ramsey, who co-authored the resolution, said results from an earlier survey indicated widespread support among students living on-campus.

“Of the 1,600 residents that responded to the survey, 64 percent said they would support gender inclusive housing,” Ramsey said. “Twenty percent said they would oppose it. Another 20 percent said they would consider it.”

Ramsey said the association’s approval was crucial to communicating student support for the policy to the administration.

“This is the most important step,” Ramsey said. “This says we have the full support of residence halls.”

Director of Residence Life Hemlata Jhaveri said the University would begin research into how other colleges and universities have implemented gender inclusive housing.

“We’re going to start by letting the University administration know what the recommendation from UHRA was tonight,” Jhaveri said. “Our next step will be to create a working group and make sure that we have a broad, diverse and representative group to work on this recommendation. We’re looking at research into what other universities are doing. We’re looking at national trends.”

Students have already signed residence hall contracts for next year, so the earliest gender inclusive housing could be implemented on campus would be the fall of 2013, Jhaveri said.

“Pending approval from President [William] Powers [Jr.] and the Board of Regents, we’ll look at implementation,” she said. “The earliest that we could have all the approvals from the President and the Board of Regents would be fall 2013.”

Matthew Gracia, a women’s and gender studies junior, said gender inclusive housing will create safe spaces for queer, nonconforming and disabled students.

“Students want diversity and safety,” Gracia said. “The current policy has no protection for transgender students. Gender inclusive housing is also inclusive to siblings and those with disabilities who live with someone who cares for them.”

Psychology junior Ashley Hall, who serves as co-director of the queer advocacy organization StandOut, said UT has been very supportive of gender inclusive housing since StandOut began a petitioning for the policy change last fall.

“We started out with a petition, and the petition got a lot of attention,” Hall said. “More than 100 universities and colleges have this program, including our peer the University of Michigan and a lot of schools in California.”

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as: 2013 housing may be gender inclusive at UT