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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC gender-neutral housing proposal pushed back in lieu of tuition talks

Although gender-neutral housing was not on the Board of Trustees agenda this week, supporters are still hopeful to have the option by next fall.

The original plan was for Winston Crisp, vice chancellor of student affairs, to pitch the proposal at the meetings.

But proposed tuition increases dominated the board’s discussions, causing administrators to put the proposal on the back burner.

Terri Phoenix, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Center, said the board was focused on the budget, not their proposal.

“It was considered to be more of a time sensitive and high priority issue,” Phoenix said.

Phoenix said Crisp plans to meet with Chancellor Holden Thorp in the next two weeks to discuss the proposal.

“We’ve had a lot of support from Winston Crisp,” Phoenix said.

“He understands it is an issue of health and safety.”

The goal is to have the proposal passed by January and implemented in fall of 2012, Phoenix said.

“There is plenty of time to bring a proposal forward, and, if accepted, have it implemented in time for fall,” Crisp wrote in an email.

Crisp added that the proposal does not necessarily have to wait for the next regular board meeting in January.

The leaders working on the proposal have been in close contact with the Department of Housing and Residential Education as they prepare for the potential implementation of gender-neutral housing, Phoenix said.

Director of Housing Larry Hicks said the housing department has considered the logistics of gender-neutral housing.

“There would be no major changes in infrastructure or new construction,” he said.

If gender-neutral housing is approved, opting into it would be easy, Hicks said. It would most likely consist of a check box on the current housing application.

He said the number of students interested would probably be small.

“We just want people to feel welcome in their housing community,” Hicks said.

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