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Gender Neutral Housing? Not So Fast…

Living in sinThe rumors are both true and false, we guess: gender neutral housing will not be an option for the 2010-2011 housing year. Bwog chatted with Sean Udell, VP of CC 2011 and Treasurer of CQA, about the decision from the deans, and what the plan is going forward.

While the decision to not allow gender neutral housing to be part of housing next year should put the New York Post at ease, it also disrupts a lot of housing plans less than two weeks before registration. Echoing a similar attitude, Udell, CC ’11, expressed his disappointment about the decision, as well as his general frustration after having attended “zillions” of meetings pushing the gender neutral policy in the fall semester so that it might be approved for this upcoming housing lottery. Deans were encouraging, and some even “expressed privately that this was something that was going to happen, and was widely supported.”

The momentum for a gender neutral housing policy began at Barnard a few years ago, and Udell and fellow CCSC member Learned Foote, CC ’11, started “testing the waters” at Columbia in April 2009. “The CCSC administration was very supportive” of the initiative, and almost a full year of negotiations and policy-crafting followed. So what happened?

Well, Udell explained, “something got lost in the dean tube.” Udell spoke to a “level of miscommunication happening on the administration’s part.” After the hullabaloo that swept the press, the administration has been “pretty tight-lipped” in terms of an update on the initiative. This time, Udell said, “we’re going to hold the administration responsible for what they said.”

A work group, similar to Barnard’s meal plan committee, is being assembled to work on the policy. Udell expressed his confusion as to why such a group would have to exist in the first place, since unlike Barnard’s proposed meal plan, the gender neutral housing idea was originally a student initiative. Still, Udell wants to ensure that the committee can work on crafting a new policy that has a better chance of being approved in the 2011-2012 academic year.

Udell pointed out that students are eager to get policy passed quickly because of their set four years at Columbia. But for the administration, this time pressure isn’t quite as urgent. Going forward, Udell said the “timeline is still important, but the expectation should be that things take time in a university that is as decentralized as ours. Our given assurances [are] that things will happen and happen quickly, and things don’t always do.” Still, Udell and company are “optimistic that this will eventually happen, and we’re all ready to work to make sure it happens.”


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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The reasoning employed by the administration to prevent gender-neutral housing’s implementation (specifically Ms. Moody-Adams’ claims that she had “not heard about it until a few weeks ago” after all of the negative publicity that surrounded its initial passages as well as that “more of the student opinion was necessary” when the act itself was a completely student-motivated and drafted initiative ) is frankly disingenuous and incredibly offensive to me as a paying and contributing member of this supposed “progressive international university”. Add to this the fact that administrators had insinuated that this measure was as good as passed at every step along the way, and the bureaucracy of this university, and their obvious desire to mask their intense recalcitrance to any more bad press with specious claims, becomes incredibly obvious. I’m really not sure what I’m supporting with my tuition here, and if it’s for unfounded decisions like these to be made, I can guarantee that no money will be coming back this school’s way. Oh, but wait, they’ve already got me hooked for four years, and that’s probably all they need considering each successive class will somehow include 50 more students being placed on this campus that these very same administrators already decry as and apologize for being overcrowded.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Thanks for posting it, but the spec article was actually less accurate, less succinct, and failed to mention Barnard’s role in all of this (namely, starting it)

  • Dr. Venture says:

    @Dr. Venture Am I the only one who finds the phrase “something got lost in the dean tube” hilarious?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Columbia, once at the forefront of change and initiative, is now one of the last in the Ivy League to adopt some sort of gender-neutral housing.

    1. It depends on your definition... says:

      @It depends on your definition... That’s not entirely true. Many schools that have “gender-neutral housing” consider mixed suites (or sometimes, mixed floors) to be “gender-neutral.” Schools with all doubles as gender-neutral is still relatively new, and Columbia would be one among a small handful of leaders to entirely change its housing system, assuming the most recent CCSC proposal is what is ultimately embraced by administrators.

    2. well says:

      @well columbia’s been pretty slow to a lot of things. barnard, too, is known as being the least gender-progressive women’s college. they wrote about this in the eye a couple weeks back:

    3. According to ivygate says:

      @According to ivygate yale has just this year implemented gender neutral suites, o wait, but only for seniors…

      1. congratulations says:

        @congratulations so we’re only slightly less backwards than New Haven!

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