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Cornell University. Photo - Creative Common/Alex Sergeev Cornell University. Photo - Creative Common/Alex Sergeev  

Cornell student government approves mixed-gender dorm rooms

Earlier this semester, the Cornell University Student Assembly swiftly adopted a resolution which, if approved by the administration, will allow students of different genders to share dorm rooms.

If Cornell’s president, David Skorton, approves the plan, upper-level students will be allowed to share individual dorm rooms with students of the opposite gender, reports Campus Reform.

“Giving students more options is always a good thing,” said one Student Assembly representative, according to the Cornell Insider, a blog run by staff student newspaper staff.

The Student Assembly vote was 23-1-0, with the lone dissent coming from Representative Peter Scelfo. Scelfo said he cast his dissent on procedural grounds. He said the student governing body acted hastily.

“I feel as though the Assembly acted double-quick and should have offered the resolution more debate and discussion,” Scelfo said, according to Campus Reform.

Sponsors of the resolution labeled it as “time sensitive,” thus limiting the period of debate which would typically surround an important issue, the Cornell Insider notes.

The plan could take effect as early as February 2013. Upper-level students will reportedly be able to choose to live in gender-neutral rooms, which will be clustered into suites with other gender-neutral rooms. The suites will be sprinkled around the floors of various dormitories on campus.

Supporters of the resolution and the representatives who voted for it lacked any data on the level of dissatisfaction with Cornell’s current housing structure, the Cornell Insider observes.

In March of 2012, Cornell ended a different pilot program that offered gender-neutral housing in its residence halls, according to The Cornell Daily Sun. The program set aside about 100 gender-neutral suites and allowed students of different genders to share suites but not individual rooms.

Cornell terminated the program because demand for suites full of people of different genders was not high enough to sustain the program.

“The few multi-gender suites that were reserved ended up yielding far more roommate issues and complaints than single-gender suites,” said Carlos Gonzalez, assistant director of residential and event services, according to The Sun.

In November 2011, Cornell’s Student Assembly has resolved that all the single-stall bathrooms on campus should be gender neutral. That resolution passed 26-1.

At the time, The Sun reported, Trey Ramsey, a transgender student and a cosponsor of the resolution, complained that transgender students must often contend with “discrimination or discomfort while in bathrooms.”

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