Gender-neutral housing resolution debated

Twenty-six MSA senators voted in favor of the resolution.
Chancellor Brady Deaton speaks at the joint session between the Missouri Students Association and other on-campus student organizations Wednesday evening in Chamber Auditorium. The meeting's agenda included reports from multiple student organizations and voting on six joint resolutions.

The Missouri Students Association hosted a joint session meeting with other on-campus student organizations Wednesday evening. The organizations present were the Residence Hall Association, the Graduate Professional Council, the Legion of Black Collegians, Four Front, the Panhellenic Association and the Interfraternity Council.

Various pieces of legislation were presented, but the piece that stirred the most debate was the resolution proposing that Residential Life offer gender-neutral housing to students living on campus.

According to the resolution, gender-neutral housing is “an accommodation for students that feel more comfortable living with people who express a different gender identity than themselves.”

The resolution also states that general-neutral housing would only be located in a particular residence hall on its own floor.

“It’s important as an inclusive campus to have this option,” MSA Operations Chairman Justin Mohn said in a speech. “It will be more inclusive toward the community.”

The resolution states that students would not be put in a gender-neutral housing environment unless they show interest in it.

According to the resolution, “gender-neutral housing communities focus on creating an inclusive environment where students can live in the same room with any student — regardless of sex, gender, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.”

MSA Student Affairs representative Claire Kates opposed passing the resolution because it could lead to targeting students leading to discrimination.

“Having students all in one place like that would not be good,” Kates said. “It’s just like separate but equal. It’s a step in the wrong direction.”

Kates said applying for residence hall positions was already competitive, and this resolution would eliminate jobs in the residence halls for people who are uncomfortable working in a gender-neutral housing environment.

MSA Student Affairs Chairman Tyler Ricketts said he believed gender-neutral housing was a step worth taking.

“I am an advocate for residents who don’t have a space where they can feel comfortable,” Ricketts said in a speech.

MSA senators signified their vote through role call, and a majority of the MSA senate voted in favor of the resolution. Nine MSA senators opposed the resolution: Claire Kates, Lindsey Miller, Taeler De Haes, Nick Droege, Jake Wilhelm, Paul Ruppe, Michael Weaver, Taylore Johnson and Jordan Denker.

RHA and Four Front passed the resolution along with MSA, and LBC opposed it. PHA and IFC abstained from voting on all resolutions.

Ricketts said Residential Life can use this resolution in the future to show students are in favor of gender-neutral housing.

“The resolution can be used as justification for implementation,” Ricketts said.

According to the resolution, it is recommended that “Residential Life offer gender-neutral housing opportunities to residents by fall 2012.”

“This will give Residential Life a year to set it up before students ROAR,” Ricketts said. “I think it’s possible.”

The gavel signifying who will host the next joint session in the upcoming year was passed from MSA to LBC.

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