After receiving a vote of symbolic support from Student Congress on Tuesday, a proposal to create a gender-neutral housing option is primed for consideration by University administrators.
The proposal, which first gained student support early last spring, will be submitted to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp on Oct. 7.
The proposal would allow individuals of any sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity to live together in UNC’s residence halls.
“We had to first find out if this was even a possibility, if this was something that people were interested or willing to do,” said Terri Phoenix, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center, who has been working closely with students on the request.
If the proposal is passed through Chancellor Holden Thorp’s office, the Department of Housing and Residential Education will begin to make plans.
“That approval is what we’re waiting for,” said Rick Bradley, assistant director of housing.
“Then we will see what this looks like in terms of what the students want, what the University supports and what kind of building style would best accommodate it.”
Phoenix said the purpose of the proposal is to show the campus community what is going on at peer institutions nationwide.
“It provided an opportunity for students to express whether or not, and to what degree, they supported this proposal,” Phoenix said.
The ability to request gender-neutral housing, if approved, would be available to all students.
Sophomore Kevin Claybren started the initiative last spring after speaking to LGBTQ students who didn’t feel comfortable with their living situations.
“These people don’t get to choose to live with who they feel the most comfortable with, and I feel like that’s a universal problem,” he said.
“It’s disheartening to hear about someone going into their room and getting teased and not feeling comfortable.”
Claybren said he and other supporters plan to use the next week to garner as much student support as possible before submitting the proposal to administrators.
“Next week, we will be doing a lot of visibility initiatives, trying to get more people to sign the petitions,” Phoenix said.
Supporters of the initiative will hold a workshop Oct. 6 in hopes of gaining campus support outside the LGBTQ community, Claybren said.
The students behind the proposal are hoping to implement a pilot program as early as next fall.
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