A resolution supporting the transgender and gender non-conforming students at WKU was passed at the Student Government Association’s final meeting of the year Tuesday night.
The final vote was 18-to-5 in favor, with four senators abstaining from the vote.
The resolution encourages WKU to create gender-neutral housing options, facilities such as gender-neutral restrooms in all university buildings and to revise policies to be more inclusive to the transgender community.
Students who were not members of SGA attended the meeting specifically to discuss this resolution and see what SGA did about it.
The debate regarding the resolution covered a wide variety of issues including safety of transgender students, other students being uncomfortable with these provisions, monetary issues and the fact that specific housing might isolate or segregate some students.
With regard to transgender students’ safety, the bill’s author Hustonville senior Kevin Asbery, an SGA senator, said he doesn't think safety will be a problem.
“As far as safety, I think this would actually improve safety because you’re going to be living with a probably more accepting community because it’ll be gender neutral-housing,” Asbery said.
Asbery also addressed the monetary concerns by saying that if WKU is spending a considerable amount of money to renovate buildings, it would be a minimal cost to add gender neutral bathrooms. Things like policy changes shouldn’t cost much at all, he said.
“This is not a monetary issue — this is an equality issue,” Asbery said.
One guest at the meeting, Scottsville senior Andrew Salman, vice president of Student Identity Outreach, said he didn’t see this solution as segregation because it was voluntary.
“You don’t have to live in transgender or gender-neutral housing,” Salman said.
Other SGA members encouraged the senators to vote in support of their fellow students.
“I think that something to keep in mind is that this is a resolution and we have a group of students who have come to us as their voice asking for us to like let this be known that it’s an issue that they feel is important, so I think that we should support them in that,” said Eileen Forsythe, legislative research chairperson.
Rachel Calhoun, secretary of the student senate, had a similar opinion.
“The student government, we’re supposed to listen to the students and we have a group of students here telling us they don’t feel safe and they don’t feel that their being called into attention,” Calhoun said. “They’re not getting what they want and so we’re here to say we support them in what they want and that’s what’s most important.”
After this debate, the resolution was ultimately passed.
SGA passed a second resolution as well. That resolution supported recognizing the SGA student office workers for their hard work during the year.