SGA tables transgender support resolution

Taylor Harrison

A resolution to make WKU more inclusive for transgender and gender-nonconforming students was ultimately tabled at the Student Government Association meeting on Tuesday night.

Critics argued that the resolution is vague and may not be feasible, while supporters said this would make WKU more accepting of all students.

The resolution will be up for a vote again next week.

Hustonville senior Kevin Asbery, an SGA senator, wrote the resolution in support of WKU changing its policies, facilities and housing options to accommodate transgender and gender-nonconforming students. Asbery said this issue was recently brought to his attention.

“I’ve been largely unaware of the issues facing the transgender and the gender-nonconforming community,” Asbery said.

Scottsville senior Andrew Salman, vice president of Student Identity Outreach, said it’s definitely good that SGA has noticed the issue.

“It’s something that isn’t really brought up at Western at all, despite a surprisingly healthy transgender community,” Salman said.

Salman said gender-inclusive housing is a huge deal.

“I personally think that, with the WKU apartments coming up next semester, it would be a great time for Housing and Residence Life to start sort of updating their policies — becoming a little more progressive,” Salman said.

The resolution also said if HRL is unable to provide adequate gender-neutral housing facilities, transgender and gender-nonconforming students should be granted penalty-free housing exemptions.

Salman discussed several gender-neutral options that other universities have implemented.

Universities could include a check box on the housing application that students can use to indicate whether or not they would accept a gender-nonconforming or transgender roommate.

“And if they have a roster of people who are like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine with that,’ then it’s easy to house them regardless of sex and gender,” Salman said.

As another option, Salman said there could be a single gender-inclusive residence hall.

“I think a lot of different variables are coming together right now, and it’s a great time to be looking at gender identity issues and how to better accommodate gender nonconforming students,” Salman said.

During SGA’s debate about this resolution, Louisville sophomore Kevin Adams, an SGA senator, said he thought the resolution was too vague and shouldn’t be voted on right away.

“This is a big, big bill late in the semester,” Adams said. “I think we ought to be a little bit more cautious about what this bill is about. I’m just not really sure — I mean, do we build new dorms for that? Or do we incorporate that into our housing right now?”

Adams also made the point that SGA needs to see how students feel about this issue.

In response, Asbury said the bill was intentionally not too specific so that it would work well with the many policies of different departments within the university.  Asbery also said he was doing this in correlation with a senior seminar project, and his group surveyed more than 100 people.

While the results have not yet been compiled, Asbery said the responses have been overwhelmingly supportive of gender-neutral housing so far.

Asbery said if the resolution passes, the issue will gain attention with the rest of the university.

“I mean, the SGA represents all the students,” he said. “So when SGA passes a resolution, it kind of gets some attention.”