Duke Student Government expressed its support for gender-neutral housing on West Campus for the 2013-2014 academic year Wednesday night.
Sophomore Jacob Zionce, DSG vice president of residential life, briefed the senate on the gender-neutral housing proposal. Last year, gender-neutral housing was established on Central Campus, but many of those living in gender-neutral houses still have separate bedrooms or same-sex roommates. Zionce emphasized the need for gender-neutral housing to extend to West Campus in order to allow students who want gender-neutral housing to have the option of living on West Campus as well.
“It is a fundamental right for people to feel safe in their spaces,” Zionce said.
Zionce explained that all sections would have the right to become gender-neutral if they choose. He presented a scenario in which representatives from DSG and Blue Devils United would hold information sessions for residents about what becoming gender-neutral entails and facilitate conversation about the subject.
Sections would also be assessed to see what kind of structural changes houses would have to undergo to make gender-neutral living a viable option on West Campus. Houses would be classified into three levels in order to accomplish this need. Level One houses include houses on campus that are able to fully take on the gender-neutral model without any structural changes, which would have two single-sex bathrooms and one gender-neutral bathroom, Zionce said. Level Two houses would require minor structural changes, and Level Three houses must make structural changes to become gender-neutral. All spaces designated as Level One and Level Two houses could become gender-neutral based on student need and interest. Zionce said, however, that if the administrators accepted the proposal, gender-neutral housing could not be on West Campus until next year.
Students blocking under the current house model would choose as a group to block in gender-neutral residences.
In 2011, DSG passed a resolution supporting the concept of gender-neutral housing on West Campus. The resolution Zionce presented officially passed and is supported by Duke Students for Gender Neutrality as well.
In other business:
DSG representatives celebrated the repeal of the statue of limitations on sexual misconduct. DSG unanimously passed a resolution tonight that recognized the removal of the statute of limitations. Executive Vice President Patrick Oathout gave special thanks to DSG President Alex Swain and Stefani Jones, vice president of equity and outreach, for pushing the repeal.
“This has increased the credibility of the DSG,” Oathout said.
A 20-minute debate ensued over whether or not to use $1,500 from the DSG surplus budget to fund the Back to School Engagement Event featuring Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned poet, activist and educator. The event would also have funds contributed by the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Office of Student Affairs. Despite noting the prominence and potential positive impact of Giovanni’s presence, several senators questioned the use of allocating surplus funds to an event that would benefit a finite number of people rather than something that benefits more people, such as the Arts Annex. The proposal did not to pass.
A resolution was also unanimously passed to congratulate Dr. Robert Lefkowitz on his Nobel Prize in Chemistry.