Senate looks at transgender inclusiveness
3/1/2012 1:43 PM
Two Undergraduate Student Government Senators introduced resolutions to create more gender-neutral accommodations for transgender students at the USC Senate meeting Tuesday night. The resolutions addressed student concerns on gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-neutral housing.
Both resolutions are not final and can be amended before they are voted on at the Senate meeting on March 6. Resolutions communicate to the administration the student body’s opinion on a particular issue.
The first resolution, introduced by Residential Senator Keshav Tyagi, advocates for the conversion of an existing bathroom in the Student Union to a gender-neutral bathroom. Tyagi said the reason for targeting that particular bathroom was because of its proximity to the LGBT Resource Center and the Women’s Center in the building.
“We are the Trojan Family and how can we say we are a family if we don’t treat every person here equally or accommodate every person’s needs,” Tyagi said.
Eighty-four percent of 94 respondents to a survey on gender-neutral bathrooms were in favor of creating a gender-neutral bathroom in the Student Union. Tyagi, who drafted the survey with USG Director of Diversity Affairs Josh DeMilta, said the survey was promoted, in part, by the LGBT Resource Center. Tyagi said he also consulted with transgender students when writing the resolution.
[Correction: A previous version of this article indicated that Josh DeMilta is the USG Director of University Affairs. He is the USG Director of Diversity Affairs. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.]
Commuter Senator Edward Chau also introduced a resolution Tuesday urging USC Housing to begin a pilot program for gender-neutral housing on the Rainbow Floor in Century Apartments, a housing option for LGBT students and allies.
“As of now, there is no ruling to move forward with gender-neutral housing,” said Vincent Vigil, director of the LGBT Resource Center.
Earlier in the year, the resident adviser on the Rainbow Floor submitted a proposal to the administration for gender-neutral housing. USC’s current policy is to assign roommates by birth sex. The proposal seeks to leave that policy unchanged but to allow to gender-mixed suitemates within the apartment.
“That wouldn’t solve the problem completely but at least it would be a step in the right direction toward creating a more supportive environment for the students who want to participate in the gender-neutral option [on the Rainbow Floor],” Vigil said.
Of the 530 respondents to an online survey conducted by USG, nearly 80 percent of respondents supported a pilot program where students have an option to live with the opposite gender.
In addition to Chau, the housing resolution was authored by Commuter Senator Howard Chang and sponsored by Vinnie Prasad, a residential senator and USG vice president-elect.
The resolution cites Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford as examples of universities that have begun offering a “gender inclusive housing option” within the last seven years.
Tyagi said he received some negative feedback from the survey on gender-neutral bathrooms. Some students said the USC administrators should place more concern on other issues, such as bikes and recycling policies, rather than on creating more gender-neutral bathrooms.
“Responses like that cater to just the disconnect about transgender awareness on this campus and that’s something that needs to be addressed,” Tyagi said.
Vigil said the number of self-identifying transgender students who utilized the resource center increased from one last year to 10 this school year.
“Our students are very supportive of any method to make our university more trans-friendly,” Vigil said. “With that increasing environment we should be able to create a more supportive environment for them so this is a step in the right direction, our students would argue.”