ACLU drafts proposal for gender-neutral campus housing
As MSU’s transgender housing policy rounds off its first year of operation, a student is taking the first steps toward a policy that would expand gender-neutral housing to a campus-wide scale, allowing any two students of the opposite sex the option to room together.
MSU’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has been discussing the idea since the inception of the transgender housing policy, President Marc Allen said.
Now, one year later, ACLU member Mitchell Rivard has researched and drafted this proposal and said he is beginning to seek approval of it.
University Housing Director Angela Brown said the proposal would first have to go through a process of review, which could involve administration spanning all the way to the MSU Board of Trustees and MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.
“Anything is possible, but there are a lot of steps it would have to go before it could be approved,” Brown said. “It’s not just a yes or no answer.”
The intent of the push toward gender-neutral housing is to allow students the best living arrangement, not to change the structure of university housing, Allen said.
“The idea is not to overhaul the university, but to make a couple of places available where, if (students) want this option, they can have it,” he said.
Under Rivard’s proposal, which was written after researching policies at other schools, no student would be randomly assigned to live with a member of the opposite sex. Students would have the option to request a roommate of the opposite sex only if both agreed to the arrangement.
“Students coming here to MSU are responsible adults, and in my opinion, responsible adults can make responsible decisions,” he said.
Rivard said he is confident the policy will be a possibility for MSU within the next few years, and said he hopes to have it in effect by fall 2011. But some students, such as mechanical engineering junior Sara Wiederoder, are more hesitant to believe that gender-neutral housing will be accepted by all members of the MSU community.
“I feel like MSU’s never going to be able to do it because there’s going to be parents against having boys and girls live together, heaven forbid,” she said. “I would probably support it, because who am I to decide how people should live their lives? But I’m not going to go campaign on the streets about it.”
Rivard said in the 21st century, males and females living together is commonplace and no longer an issue.
“Students’ needs and wants change over time, and with those changes, the university needs to adapt,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s what this should be built around, because the students are the university.”