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.”