Gender Neutral BU Seeks Student Support

Originally reported for The Daily Free Press on February 26, 2013

As Boston University officials continue to consider implementing gender-neutral housing, Gender Neutral BU members set plans Monday night to engage the community in advocating for gender-neutral options on campus.

“This semester GN BU has been talking about talking to the student body and getting everyone on board,” said GN BU member Rea Sowan. “People don’t really know what gender-neutral housing is. We need to reach out to them and tell them what it really is.”

Members gathered at the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism Monday for the first of weekly meetings for GN BU. Participants planned to reach out to students and to work with administration officials in securing gender-neutral housing.

Sowan, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said the group decided to begin focusing on student support when BU administration officials directed the Committee on Student Life and Policies to assess gender-neutral housing’s plausibility.

“The administration has told us that they have delegated this to a committee, which we don’t know a lot about, but we do know that they are working on it,” Sowan said. “At this point, we have discussed and come to a consensus that we are comfortable that the administration is working on this.”

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore, who is on the committee, said committee members are researching gender-neutral housing and are responsible for making recommendations to BU President Robert Brown.

“We’ve had three meetings and we’re in the process now of drafting some recommendations for Brown,” Elmore said in an with The Daily Free Press Thursday. “I suspect we’ll probably be able to get him something within the next week or two after everyone takes a look at it and workshops it.”

However, after committee members send recommendations to Brown, the final decision is entirely up to him, Elmore said.

“A lot of that next step depends on what he wants to do with what we give him — it’s his decision there,” Elmore said. “We’re at a step right now, and we’ll see what he wants to do in terms of continuing the conversation or how to make an ultimate decision about this.”

Lennie Naughton, a GN BU member and College of Fine Arts freshman, said educating students about the specifics of GN BU and gender neutrality will help gain more support for gender-neutral housing.

“If I didn’t talk to them about that then they’d have no idea, but now that they know they’re very on board for it and are very supportive of the cause,” Naughton said.

While they wait, GN BU members are seeking approval as an official student group from the Student Activities Office at BU, which they hope will help provide them with more supplies and space they need to continue their student outreach project, said GN BU member Hanna Stolarski.

GN BU members are currently working on a promotional video that will highlight why gender-neutral housing is a necessity at BU, Stolarski, a College of Communication sophomore, said.

“We want to have a mixture of informational and personal testimonies [in the video] about why this is necessary on campus,” Stolarski said. “We’re hoping to make it more of a personal issue, and really focusing on getting people aware of what the actual stakes are and what we’re actually fighting for.”

Chris Lisinski contributed to the reporting of this article.


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