Students push OU to become first Big 12 school to adopt gender-neutral housing
Feb. 9, 2010 — OU President David Boren said he doesn’t see gender-neutral housing as an option because of conservative Oklahoma values.
March 2, 2010 — OU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Friends and Students for a Democratic Society hosted a panel discussion of professors to advocate for gender-neutral housing policies. OU Housing and Food representatives attending the panel said the option was ultimately up to Boren and the OU Board of Regents.
March 2, 2010 — Undergraduate Student Congress passed a resolution in support of gender-neutral housing.
April 2010 — OU Housing and Food Services officials said residence halls would have coed floors for upperclassmen. In coed housing, men and women live in separate rooms and suites but in the same wings.
March 21, 2011 — SDS attempted to interrupt a prospective student tour to educate visitors about the gender-neutral housing campaign and OU’s policies. The tour did not stop, but the group distributed fliers.
April 18, 2011 — The Gender Neutral Housing Coalition planned to sleep overnight in the Oklahoma Memorial Union’s Crossroads Lounge to protest housing policies. OU Police Department officers broke up the protest after students tried to set up a bunk bed and sign.
May 24, 2011 — OU added sexual orientation to its list of anti-discriminatory policies.
September 2011 — Housing Center Student Association officers heard gender-neutral housing proposals from SDS and GLBTF members and discussed options. The groups did not reach a consensus on the best course of action.
Wednesday — GLBTF and Students for a Democratic Society organized a rally on the South Oval and delivered a proposal to Boren.
Source: Daily archives
Students expressed dissatisfaction with the university’s lack of a gender-neutral housing policy during an on-campus rally Wednesday.
Students for a Democratic Society member Sarah Garrett has been actively involved in the push for a policy change for three years, she said.
During that three-year period, organization members consistently have heard that gender-neutral housing cannot happen in Oklahoma, Garrett said.
“‘This is Oklahoma’ should mean that change can happen and this is a place where people stand up and make things happen,” Garrett said.
If OU were to accept students’ gender-neutral proposal, OU would be the first university in the Big 12 to have such a policy, Garrett said.
“It will prove that this is a leading school that makes changes and that we are prepared to lead on the front of social change and progress,” she said.
Robert Wild, international studies senior, said he supports gender-neutral housing due to a series of negative experiences his freshman year.
Wild said he didn’t feel safe in the dorms because people on his hall called him and his friends names, trying to intimidate and threaten them.
The discourse eventually devolved to a point where one of Wild’s good friends had to change dorms and move into a private room for an added cost, he said.
“Students should be able to be comfortable in the place they have to live,” Wild said.
Michael Carango, history sophomore, said he believes policies should not be dictated by the closed-minded.
“Everyone has the right to be safe and not be forced to live in a hostile environment,” Carango said.