Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.01.25
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org/
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to email@example.com
Archives of the QNOC Digest are available at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
1. South Florida Blade (UC-Irvine) – 'Out of Annapolis'
2. Admissions Blog, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, IL) – Out on Campus
3. Carroll County Times (Westminster, MD) - Carroll Community College play examines effects of gay student's death
4. The Rebel Yell (UNLV) - Campus LGBT community comes together
5. Out and About Newspaper (Nashville, TN) - Vanderbilt University and Medical Center named one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For
6. Central Florida Future (Univ. of Central Florida) - Activist student groups seek recruits
7. Moscow-Pullman Daily News, DNews.com (Moscow, ID) - UI president nixes mixed-gender housing
8. The Daily Northwestern (Evanston, IL) – Cover Story: Self, Sex and Politics
9. Collegiate Times.com (Virginia Tech) – U of Chicago to offer coed, 'open housing' policy
10. The Lariat Online (Baylor University – Waco, TX) – Editorial: Coed rooms spell trouble
11. The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT) - Gay students at BYU still struggle for acceptance
1. South Florida Blade, January 16, 2009
5399 NE 14th Ave., Suite 1, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334
"Out of Annapolis"
By Rebecca Armendariz, RArmendariz@washblade.com
'Out of Annapolis,' a documentary film featuring 35 gay alumni of the U.S. Naval Academy, has almost been completed. The filmmakers, an organization called USNA Out, are hoping to get it shown at festivals come summer 2009. A preliminary trailer has been released:
(click on link for trailer)
About half of the 35 interviews have been completed. The filmmakers hope thatthe finished product will give insight to the damage of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and create a historical record of gay Naval Academy graduates' experiences and accomplishments.
2. Admissions Blog UIUC, January 21, 2009
Office of Undergraduate Admissions, 901 W. Illinois Street, Urbana, Illinois 61801
"Out on Campus"
By Janel, Class of 2009
I recently received some questions concerning the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgendered) community at Illinois on a blog that was more than 90 days old (y'know you can't comment on blogs after 90 days has passed) so I decided to just spin it off into a whole nother entry. (Is "nother" even a word?) Let me preface this by saying that (1) I do not openly identify as L, G, B or T myself, and (2) this "LGBT" community I'm talking about can also include people of all gender expressions, those who are questioning their sexuality, and their allies. I encourage you to comment and add to this post as you see fit.
On the whole, it looks good. I got a number of friends who are out here, and they seem to be getting along fine like the rest of us. Although, I should note that they're out to varying degrees: some are only out to close friends, some are just wearing it on their sleeves. That isn't to say there isn't an intolerant bone in anyone on this campus, but I haven't witnessed anything heinous with my own two eyes. The worst thing I've ever personally witnessed was hate speech written in an elevator. However, two semesters ago, a young man was attacked on Green Street for his perceived sexual orientation. This was met with opposition from groups of students, who then organized a Hug-In, on Green Street.
As for other things I've seen with my eyes, I work for University Housing! If this isn't an accepting environment, I just don't know what is. People who work for housing are just bleeding social justice, and it's awesome. We receive tons of diversity training, and although we are not mandated to do so, a number of emplyees have some type of symbol or statement on their door indicating that their room or office is a safe zone. Outside of Housing, the University makes an effort with its Inclusive Illinois program to welcome the LGBT community. We have an office of LGBT Resources that puts on a number of programs. We also have a student club called PRIDE, and there are likely more that exist that I don't know about. AND in 2008, the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference was hosted at our university, which was kind of a big deal. Angela Davis was there. Need I say more!?
This is all me talking about what I've seen in my short tenure at this university, now if you're one for quantitative data, I'd say this survey on campus climate specifically for members of the LGBT community is a must read. The first three pages give a good summary, but it's then broken down into greater detail, including statistics by ethnicity, which is important because some people may overlook how racial and sexual orientation identities intersect.
While I'm at it, I may as well share with you this list of financial aid opportunities that I found of the Dean of Students' page.
OH! How could I forget!? I should mention that I am a Gender Studies major, and right now that is the closest thing we have to LGBT studies. There's an LGBT section in the library, but no dice on the major. Although, I hear that they're working on an LGBT/Queer studies minor program!
3. Carroll County Times, January 22, 2009
201 Railroad Ave., P.O. Box 346, Westminster, MD 21158
Carroll Community College play examines effects of gay student's death
By Brandon Oland
Actor Chris Zargarbashi calls his grandmother's death one of the most emotional events of his life, and he plans on channeling those memories this weekend to convey the powerful emotions necessary for his theater performances.
Zargarbashi will be juggling three roles in Carroll Community College's production of "The Laramie Project," a documentary that chronicles the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepherd, a gay student at the University of Wyoming.
Unlike traditional theater performances, Zargarbashi won't be giving his take on a character in "The Laramie Project."
He'll be playing three people whose lives were affected by Shepherd's death.
The production is based on a yearlong investigation by members of New York's Tectonic Theater Project in 2000.
Tectonic Theater company members interviewed about 60 Laramie, Wyo., residents affected by Shepherd's murder, including many acquaintances.
After completing the investigation, actors pieced together a three-act performance of their findings in a series of short scenes.
"The Laramie Project" has been performed by several high schools and colleges ever since, and it was the basis for a 2002 HBO movie of the same name.
The Carroll Community College production features as many as 15 actors on stage at once.
They are all portraying multiple characters.
Zargarbashi plays Jedadiah Schultz, a Laramie youth whose opinion of homosexuality changes after Shepherd's murder; the Rev. Roger Schmidt, who held a vigil for Shepherd after his hospitalization; and Dr. Cantway, who treated Shepherd after he was found beaten, bloodied and bound to a fence outside Laramie.
The Dr. Cantway role is the one that necessitates Zargarbashi recalling his grandmother's death.
Cantway treated Shepherd and Aaron McKinney, one of his killers, simultaneously at Invinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie.
McKinney was hospitalized for a bar fight unrelated to Shepherd's death.
Only after McKinney's arrest in the Shepherd case did Cantway discover the grisly link.
Zargarbashi must portray Cantway's angst and despair while being interviewed by one of the Tectonic Theater company members.
"This is one of the hardest plays I've ever done," he said. "I had to have a different emotion for each character."
Last November, Carroll Community College theater director Bill Gillett speculated that the Westboro Baptist Church might consider picketing the show.
The Topeka, Kansas-based radical organization, which is fundamentally against the homosexual lifestyle, has picketed at previous "The Laramie Project" shows.
Sure enough, Westboro Baptist group members list the event as one they are planning to picket from 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. before the Friday show, according to the organization's official Web site.
In a press release, Westboro Baptist proclaims "The Laramie Project" as "sodomite propaganda masquerading as legitimate theater."
But several cast members said the production doesn't glorify homosexuality.
Instead, it tackles how Shepherd's death changed a community.
"The focus isn't on gay versus straight," said Roberta Gore, a North Carroll High drama teacher and the show's director. "It's more about love versus hate."
The production does, at times, focus on Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney, who are serving life in prison for beating Shepherd after meeting him in a Laramie bar.
But most of the production focuses on how Shepherd's death affected loved ones and the community at large.
Throughout the show, Carroll Community College members show a PowerPoint presentation of Laramie landmarks and photos of people portrayed in the play.
The second act shows how a media blitz after Shepherd's beating reluctantly put Laramie's 28,000 residents in the spotlight.
The audience also gets to meet several Laramie residents, including Shepherd's friend, Romaine Patterson, played by Allie Stern, and police officer Reggie Fluty, played by Alyssa Ray.
Fluty was the first responder after a student found Shepherd's bloody body.
She tried to save his life despite not having protective gloves.
Fluty discovered later that Shepherd was HIV positive and that she had been exposed.
While Fluty's HIV test came back negative, the Shepherd murder clearly affected her character.
Fluty's story is one of dozens that show how one murder can change a community.
"What struck me is that these are real people," Ray said. "These are their words. This is what they said. This is how it felt."
If You Go
What: Carroll Community College presents "The Laramie Project"
When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Carroll Community College's Scott Theater, 1600 Washington Road, Westminster
Admission: $8 for general admission, $5 for students, seniors and faculty and staff with a Carroll Community College ID.
Information: Call 410-386-8564 or visit www. carrollcc.edu
Reach staff writer Brandon Oland at 410-857-7862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. The Rebel Yell (UNLV), January 22, 2009
4505 S. Maryland Pkwy., Box 2011, Las Vegas, NV 8915
Campus LGBT community comes together
By Anisa Buttar
Recent mixer provides starting point for support network, addressing issues
After seeing the countless names that filled up the National Coming Out Day full-page ad in The Rebel Yell, last semester graduate student Amy Sandler got an idea.
She and other faculty decided to create a social gathering for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender professional community at UNLV.
Sandler, a graduate assistant in the office of Student Diversity Programs and Services, said it was a joint effort between SDPS and the VP Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.
The group waited until the start of the semester for the mixer. Around 40 faculty and staff members attended the Jan. 13. gathering.
Sandler said she was pleased with the outcome.
"Many people stopped in to say hi between classes," she said.
"The energy was positive. It's reassuring to know there are intellectually minded people in Las Vegas and the UNLV community."
Sandler recently finished her dissertation titled, "Perceptions of 'Others': The Role of Heterosexism in the Decline of College Women Coaches."
A portion of her thesis looked at sexual orientation on college campuses. A 2003 study by the Campus Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed more than one third of the undergraduate respondents reported experiencing harassment.
Sandler cited Linda Garber's book, "Tilting the Tower," in which women's studies professor emerita from the University of Maryland Evelyn Beck recounted hiding her sexuality.
Beck was open about her sexuality before accepting a position in the women's studies department at UM. She went back in the closet so she wouldn't jeopardize the new department.
In other articles, professors admit to using pen names and avoiding public research about gay and lesbian issues so they are not outed themselves.
Although these documented incidents occurred a few years ago, Sandler said there is still work to be done.
"Strides have been made on campus but we still have a ways to go."
Sandler and campus LGBT organization Spectrum's approach is education.
Spectrum member Lillian Nadeau acknowledges discrimination on campus.
"We know there are people that have that feeling, it's not surprising," she said.
"People holding onto what they think is right hinders the movement."
As for the future, Sandler said the group plans on growing socially and politically. She hopes the group will expand as a social outlet and open environment for current faculty and staff as well as new hires. Sandler added that some newcomers are surprised that Las Vegas is not as open minded as they expected.
Sandler said the group plans on being politically active when necessary. One issue on the forefront is partner benefits. Same sex partners in long-term relationships are not entitled to the same health insurance privileges as married couples.
"This could be a potential point of conversation," Sandler said.
5. Out and About Newspaper, January 22, 2009
617 Hart Lane, Nashville, TN 37216
Vanderbilt University and Medical Center named one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For
By Jerry Jones
Vanderbilt University and Medical Center has been named as one of America's top places to work by Fortune Magazine.
The institution landed at number 98 on the list of 100 companies. Vanderbilt was one of 15 companies that made the list for the first time. Other companies included Zappos.com, DreamWorks Animation SKG, salesforce.com, T-Mobile and Accenture.
It is the fist time an educational institution has appeared on the list. It is the only Nashville based company to appear on the list, and one of two Tennessee based companies - the other is FedEx, which is based in Memphis.
Vanderbilt is one of few Nashville employers who offers domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian couples, and just this past year, implemented a new non-discrimination policy that covers the transgender community by adding gender identity to its nondiscrimination clause. Vanderbilt has some 21,041employees.
Additionally this past year it moved to hire a full time new director for LGBT life and opened the KC Potter Center for its GLBT students. In 2005 Vanderbilt University Medical Center launched a series of print and television ads in an effort to reach out to Middle Tennessee's gay and lesbian community.
To complie the list Fortune polled more than 81,000 randomly selected employees at 353 companies, using a 57-question survey. Two-thirds of a company's score was based on survey results and the balance was based on studies about demographics, pay, benefits, communication and other factors, it said.
In ranking Vanderbilt the magazine said "Employees and their dependents get a 70% tuition subsidy at any college in the country. Hospital offers a WOW (Work on Weekends) shift for nurses and other workers who want to be at home during weekdays."
"This is the first time we've made the list, and importantly, it marks the first-ever inclusion of an academic institution," said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos in an email to Vanderbilt's facutly and staff. "This is a milestone of which to be very proud - and I am! I am proud of you - all 21,000 faculty and staff - for making Vanderbilt the special place we have long known it to be. With our world-class faculty, dedicated staff and talented students, Vanderbilt is much more than a workplace; it is a community of diverse people and opinions with a great sense of collegiality and camaraderie."
More than 16,000 of Vanderbilt's employees work at Vanderbilt Medical Center (VMC), which was just this past year named as one of the Nation's top hospitals by U.S. News and World Report. VMC's leader said the ranking had been a long time goal and reflected the hard work done by employees.
"Being in the company of some of the nation's greatest businesses is a remarkable achievement. This has long been a goal of ours and reflects the value of the work we do, our commitment to the people we serve but most importantly a commitment to and belief in each other," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for health affairs, "I am honored to work in this great university family and proud to be associated with the 16,000 people who work at the medical center, who come here every day and work wonders."
To be eligible, companies must have more than 1,000 U.S. employees and be at least 7 years old. The rankings are based on levels of credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie in the workforce.
Since 2002, FORTUNE has approved Vanderbilt's nomination for the recognition each year, but the university had not advanced until this year. Members of the Quality of Work Life task force have made inclusion on the prestigious list a top priority over the years. The task force is co-chaired by Susie Lyons, manager of employee programs for the medical center, and Marilyn Holmes, manager of Health Plus, Vanderbilt's wellness program.
"No matter what happens with the economy, the demand for talent will remain," said Andy Serwer, managing editor of FORTUNE. "Great companies know that super-motivated, happy, world-class employees are an incredible competitive advantage."
The full list will be published in FORTUNE's Feb. 2 issue and will begin appearing on newsstands the week of Jan. 26. It can also be accessed along with additional information at the Great Place to Work Web site at www.greatplacetowork.com.
6. Central Florida Future (Univ. of Central Florida), January 23, 2009
11825 High Tech Ave. Ste. 100, Orlando, FL 32817
Activist student groups seek recruits
By Jen Glantz
For the past 10 years, Radical Rush has combined the efforts of UCF's progressive student organizations to promote their causes and student activism.
This week, organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Student Union and the Campus Freethought Alliance - known collectively as the Progressive Council - are using topics such as the proposed Green Fee and President Obama's views about women to get students involved.
"I am hoping that this week is useful to build the community, get more members and just educate the students of UCF," said freshman Shelby Farrell, treasurer of Campus Peace Action.
The Progressive Council set up tables outside the Student Union, where its members held demonstrations and brought in guest speakers throughout the week.
To raise awareness for UCF's environmental issues, such as installing solar panels and using recyclable paper, Eco-Advocates of Central Florida displayed papier-mache tree logs with environmental facts written on them and handed out surveys to quiz students on UCF and the environment.
"Being in this group helps me look at things differently," said Panda Scalero, an undeclared freshman at UCF.
Scalero said she has altered her day-to-day life to use less water and paper and makes more of an effort to recycle.
"Our goal this week was to get new members and promote our club," she said. "Currently, our club is trying to pass the Green Fee that would add 75 cents [per credit hour] onto students' tuition."
Since last year, Eco-Advocates of Central Florida has gotten the UCF Senate to approve the Green Fee and is taking the issue up to the Board of Trustees this year, Scalero said.
She said the club helps its members look at day-to-day activities, such as water and paper use, differently. It also encourages environmental initiatives on campus such as the Green Fee, which would support campus sustainability efforts.
Other issues of focus at Radical Rush run the gamut of concerns, said Stephen Mortellaro, the Progressive Council's organizational co-chair.
"All issues of the organizations in the Progressive Council will be represented, including feminism, environmentalism, gay rights, global peace, promotion of democracy, ending the war on drugs, ending poverty and social justice," he said.
Campus Peace Action is using Radical Rush to promote the kickoff of Tent City on Sunday, Jan. 25. For five days, fellow Progressive Council organizations will join CPA for a 24-hour festival featuring live music, student films, workshops and speakers, Farrell said.
Also at Radical Rush were '80s themed tables featuring Wii gaming to promote gay rights, and the UCF chapter of the National Organization for Women focused on what Obama is doing for women.
"The event has been successful in the past, with Progressive Council organizations engaging hundreds of students at UCF and increasing the visibility of progressive movement throughout the university community," said Mortellaro.
Radical Rush ends Friday.
7. Moscow-Pullman Daily News, DNews.com, January 22, 2009
409 S. Jackson St., Moscow, ID 83843
UI president nixes mixed-gender housing
University of Idaho President Steven Daley-Laursen has ordered University Housing to halt plans to offer mixed-gender suites for students beginning next fall.
UI spokeswoman Tania Thompson said the university had gotten ahead of itself in issuing the original release. University communications issued a release Thursday afternoon.
"After visiting and reviewing the actual physical configuration of the suites that had been proposed for co-ed housing in the future, I have decided that we will not use the suites for this purpose. While the suites offer private and secure sleeping accommodations, they also feature a shared, secure bathroom space, which I am not comfortable offering to students of opposite gender. Consequently, I have ordered the discontinuation of the plan to offer these accommodations at the University of Idaho," Daley-Laursen stated in the release.
The UI announced earlier this month that it would begin to offer mixed-gender suites in the Living Learning Community. The original press release issued by University Housing stated the UI had not yet decided whether to allow mixed-gender rooms.
"While suites will be opened to either sex, it is uncertain whether University Housing will allow students of opposite gender to live in the same room within a suite," University Housing spokeswoman Tina Deines wrote in the release. Housing officials later said mixed-gender rooms would not be available.
For more on this developing story, check DNews.com or see Friday's Daily News.
8. The Daily Northwestern, January 22, 2009
1999 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208
Cover Story: Self, Sex and Politics
By Sara Peck
Joe Ellison sometimes receives a somewhat annoying monthly retirement booklet addressed to 'Ms. Ellison.' "Once you get on a mailing list somewhere, it's impossible to get off," he says with a smile and a small shake of his head, upon which a purple and gold yarmulke sits. A bristly brown-and-gray beard circles his jaw, and thin-framed glasses are perched on the bridge of his nose. Ellison, who has worked at Northwestern for 17 years in the Transportation Library, was once the daughter of a feminist mother in New York City and later a student at Reed College. In the mid-80s, Ellison fully transitioned to becoming anatomically male, and learned how difficult the change would be both on paper and in person.
"I didn't get grief from anyone; it's just tiresome," Ellison says, looking down at the red mug in his hands, which are adorned with two woven gold rings. "It's enough to get your family all on the same page, but when you have to go to every co-worker, near and far, it's just tiresome."
A self-proclaimed "somewhat brash individual," Ellison completed his graduate work in musicology, during which he met his partner of 19 years, and later worked in the Slavic library at the University of Illinois. Ellison is tartly funny, his words crisp as if calculated before utterance. "Every once and a while we look at our aging beagle, geriatric cat and the piles of laundry and wonder, 'What is this famed gay lifestyle they talk about?'" Ellison says, releasing his hands from the mug in front of him and raising them with a laugh.
He, like many at NU, is passionate about changing the non-discrimination policy, which does not cover transgender and transsexual students and staff. As of 2007, 266 universities had amended their policies to cover "gender identity and expression."
On the subject of transgender students, Ellison says "Since no reputable doctor will give kids hormones, a lot of students are going to come in partially transitioned or wanting to transition; it's a very fluid time in their life. It's only going to become more common, and you can't put students at a disadvantage. It opens them up to very uncomfortable situations, as well as abuse."
One such student is Mykell Miller. Just over four years ago, he moved from Seattle into Slivka Residential College and soon discovered the paradox of cohabitation: Even in the most blissfully compatible arrangements, the almost cute quirky habits of one roommate will eventually become daily frustrations that are no longer endearing expressions of their individuality. They're annoying. He was mildly irritated at his suitemates' overly cleanly ways, except for the bathroom, which was strewn with makeup and hair products.
He spent two years living in a suite with seven women. Born as Alice Miller, a female to male transsexual, Mykell Miller was a resident of Slivka Residential College for two years in an all-female suite, after the university denied his request for placement with a male roommate. NU's solution was a single room in a female suite, which Miller, a McCormick senior, found uncomfortable. Miller stresses that his suitemates were very understanding. "You know how girls are when they live together; it's just different than how I like to live," he says. "I asked them if they were okay with it, which they were, but it was very awkward for me and not really my responsibility to bring up a conversation like that with my roommates. The vast majority of individuals at NU have been very accepting—the problem is (university) policy." After two years, Miller moved off-campus.
Last year, Miller founded the NU Gender Protection Initiative, which began as a group of primarily transgender students who sought to reform some of NU's policies which they felt harmed transgender students. Now, many other students are involved with their initiatives. Currently they are campaigning for more unisex bathrooms, gender-neutral housing and adding "gender identity and expression" to NU's non-discrimination policy.
In late November, the group sent William Banis, vice president of student affairs, a detailed letter stating their goals, eliciting a less-than-ideal reply. "He basically said the university felt uncomfortable changing the discrimination policy until the other changes were implemented," Mills says. In 2005, Associated Student Government proposed changes to the anti-discrimination policy, which were never realized. Persuading the university to modify housing policies is the main goal of winter quarter, Mills says, which could be a gateway to even greater changes.
Doris Dirks, coordinator of the LGBT Center, met with the students once a month at LGBT Support Network meetings to discuss progress. When asked about approaching the university to make these changes, Dirks pauses and takes a calculated sip of her coffee. "Well, how should I put this so I don't get fired? It's not like we're creating the wheel here; many universities have made these changes. If you want to compare us to the Ivy League, they've done it. If you want to compare us to the Big Ten, they've done it too."
Dirks, who is currently writing her dissertation at Western Michigan University on the emergence of what she calls "basic civil rights" for transgender people, as well as other initiatives like unisex bathrooms. She leans in and says in a whisper, "It's always about the fucking bathrooms. The phobia people have about the bathroom is so strange. I think all of them should be unisex, but that's another issue." Right now, only Swift, University, and Harris Halls have unisex restrooms, making North Campus problematic for transgender students.
Banis says that he has not heard of Gender Initiative's proposal to offer gender-neutral housing. "We have been able to accommodate transgender students in campus housing. Perhaps students are not aware of this. Given the variety of housing options at NU, we have some flexibility to make accommodations."
President-elect Morton Shapiro could change these policies. Williams College, where Shapiro last served as president, accommodates transgender students and staff in its housing and non-discrimination policies. In fact, during his first public visit to NU on Jan. 6, a student asked Shapiro about changes to NU's housing policy and protection for transgender students in the non-discrimination policy. Shapiro replied that he was unsure why NU had not yet changed the policy, and that he did so at Williams. The following day, the university sent out an email to the student body reiterating the non-discrimination and sexual harassment policies stating that "Northwestern University is committed to maintaining a living, working, and educational environment free from discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment."
Dirks says she thinks Shapiro might face significant opposition if he plans to amend the policy, based on her interactions with the administration. "I think he's got an uphill battle," she says, adding that a similar change was made at Western Michigan during her time there.
But the precedent is there. All but two Ivy League schools offer gender neutral housing options, in addition to 88 percent of the Associated Press' "Top 25" schools, NU's academic peers. "I know that the administration is concerned with being legal. As much as their hearts are in the right place, they worry about the legal consequences," Miller says. Most Big Ten schools also protect gender identity and expression, excluding NU, Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota.
"I think this campus is conservative in how it's run," Dirks says. "The Board of Trustees is certainly very cautious, but it's not like we're on the cutting edge. Gender-blind housing is a growing trend. It's not just those squishy East Coast schools; the University of Chicago just did it."
Paisley Currah is a professor at CUNY Brooklyn who co-authored the book Transgender Rights. "You get to the question of what equal treatment really looks like," says Currah, a transgender person himself. He says board members might be unfamiliar with transgender issues and thus, hesitant. "But that said," he adds, "266 universities, including top institutes on par with NU have changed, and at this point, one wonders why others have not."
NU is not the only institution which may make policy changes in 2009. Nationally, legal sex on personal identification documents and marriage rights vary state-to-state and are a web of contradictions and exceptions. For example, the processes for changing the proclaimed sex have very different procedures and criteria (such as what surgeries have been performed). Essentially, a transgender person could have a different sex listed on their driver's license, birth certificate and passport.
Ellison, for one, had an incredibly difficult time making all of his personal documents congruent. After what he says was a frustrating "back-and-forth" with city officials about supposed missing documents, he called them personally. "Being the slightly brash individual I can be," he says, a smile emerging at the corners of his lips, "I called them and said, 'If you want to issue a picture of a bearded-individual with 'female' on it, you'll look more foolish than me.'" Ellison laughs again, as if relishing the triumph again. "I think they realized that no woman would have done that."
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was proposed in Congress in late 2007 with "gender identity and expression" added to sexual orientation, gender, etc. Facing strong congressional and presidential opposition, the bill was stripped of "gender identity and expression," later passing 235 to 184. Miller says he hopes the incoming congress, dominated by Democrats, will pass the bill with "gender identity" included.
Transgender employees fall under state and municipal nondiscrimination laws, Currah says. Illinois passed legislation in 2005 that protects gender identity and expression, and other states may group transgender peoples under the umbrella of gender discrimination. Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia protect against gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. An additional 20 protect against only sexual orientation.
"Students shouldn't have to jump through hoops with the administration because they're transgender. If we don't want to look like a school stuck in 1950, we need to get it done," Dirks says. She adds that gender identity and expression isn't just about transsexuals; any student could be harassed for being too masculine or feminine. "It's much broader than (transsexuals). We're talking about the straight guy who may not be as 'manly' as other guys. We're talking woman like me who could be harassed for expressing my gender in a masculine way. I'm not a lesbian, so where do I fall? Nowhere. Everyone should be protected."
9. The Collegiate Times (Virginia Tech), January 22, 2009
363 Squires Student Center, Blacksburg, VA 24061
U of Chicago to offer coed, 'open housing' policy
By Justin Graves
The University of Chicago recently took the first steps to implement a program known as "open housing," a concept that allows students of both genders to occupy the same room upon request.
This is a relatively new approach to housing on college campuses, and while Virginia Tech has coed dorm buildings, coed dorm rooms are somewhat of a rarity at such intuitions.
The program, which was led by a student initiative according to university officials, also goes by the name of gender-neutral housing. The school will not assign anyone to an opposite-sex roommate unless they request such a living arrangement. The policy will begin as a pilot program this month, with full implementation expected in the fall of 2009.
"In 2007, the Inter-House Council (the student governing body for the House System at the school) completed a resolution requesting the implementation of a policy that would permit students to select a roommate of any gender," said University of Chicago spokeswoman Julia Morse. "There are some students for whom traditional, same-sex room assignments are not ideal or appropriate, and we believe it is important that housing policies evolve to meet the needs of students to create an inclusive, welcoming environment."
In order to develop the open housing option, a committee of students and staff met to study the possible implementation of such a program. It was determined that the option be made available to second-, third- and fourth-year students. It will also be available to first-year students, but on an individual basis. The vice president and dean of students approved it in November.
At Oregon State University, coed housing is an option as well. OSU follows the same policy that coed housing is only available in upper-classmen dorms.
The University of Chicago stresses that the program is not intended for couples, though no questions will be asked. Also, students are never required to live with a member of the opposing gender.
"We respect and honor the privacy of our students. Current open housing procedures do not require students to disclose the reason for their roommate requests," Morse said. "The university also offers single-sex housing, and that option remains available. Open housing will not be implemented in locations where single-sex occupancy is an option."
The new policy has brought considerable controversy from individuals who are more traditional, including parents. Under the program, students are encouraged to maintain an open dialogue with their families. Students over the legal age of 18 are able to make decisions about their own housing contracts. However, students under 18 should discuss housing plans with their families, as they must provide parental consent, per University of Chicago policy.
It is expected that between 2 percent and 4 percent of student rooms at the university will be designated as "gender-neutral" locations.
Chicago is not the first university to implement open housing, however. Brown University, Dartmouth College, New York University and Princeton are included on the list of schools that have seen success with such living arrangements.
"We started with gender-based floors/wings and then moved to 'coed by neighbor' assignments where two men could live in a room next to two women on the same floor or wing," Hansen said. "We created a pilot of the gender inclusive option starting in the 2006-07 academic year. The discussion to move in this direction started with a proposal from a taskforce from the student body government."
OSU has been working with students and the administration on new housing options since early 2004. Mainly they requested the option be available based on the impact of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and creating "safe spaces" that would be welcoming to all.
The decision also incorporated the desire for some students to live with students of a different gender for a variety of reasons, including the desire to room with siblings, romantic partners or those who are simply close friends. Some universities report that they saw an increase in attendance after switching some of their halls to coed spaces, but this has not been the case at Oregon State.
At Tech, Kenneth Belcher is the associate director for occupancy management. He tries to keep up with the activities of other colleges and universities and notes that this is not necessarily as new of an idea as many may think.
"Of course, this policy is not something brand new; it has been implemented at a small handful of other schools years before," Belcher said. "However, this is one of the first institutions not considered to be 'highly liberal' that I am aware of in making such a change."
In residence halls such as Peddrew-Yates, West Ambler-Johnston and Lee, coed housing is an option. However, gender-neutral housing is not expected to make its way to Blacksburg anytime soon.
Currently, Tech follows the expectations of the Commonwealth and the school's own Board of Visitors. At this time, the housing office does not have any plans to provide coed housing within individual rooms as has been implemented at Chicago.
"We do have coed housing on campus, by floor, wing, or such," Belcher said. "However, we are acutely aware of the address of our institution. With the environment in Virginia and our being a state school, such a concept is really 'off the table' for many years to come. Beyond casual review, such a policy change is not being studied ... I don't see a change in this policy in the foreseeable future without significant changes in the socio-political structure of the Commonwealth."
10. The Lariat Online (Baylor University – Waco, TX), January 23, 2009
One Bear Place, #97330, Waco, Texas, 76798-7330
Editorial: Coed rooms spell trouble
Everyone has roommate problems, especially when living in close quarters in dorms. Roommates often find they have stark differences in habits and personalities. One roommate may be a neat freak, the other a slob. One may be an early riser, while the other can't accomplish anything until it's dark outside. But at some colleges, the most recent being the University of Chicago, the differences are much more obvious -- roommates are allowed to be different genders. The move to allow these coed rooms may seem like a step into the 21st century, but in reality, this idea will cause more problems than it is worth.
The University of Chicago will join more than 30 universities around the country that have adopted coed dorm rooms for students who would prefer gender-neutral housing. The program will allow interested students to live in a dorm room with a member of the opposite sex without requiring parental permission. And though the program is not intended specifically for couples, people in a romantic relationship will not be excluded.
Universities should be trying to create the most effective learning environment when possible. Residence halls are one area that the school can control and encourage a peaceful atmosphere that will promote studying.
Gender-neutral dorm rooms offer more distractions than traditional single-sex rooms do. Most people know how thought-consuming love and infatuation can be. Even when a couple is apart, it's often hard for them to concentrate on anything besides their love interest. This difficulty would increase tremendously if that person was constantly present, such as in a dorm scenario.
If a couple is romantically involved and living together, there are obvious diversions that could keep them from performing their best academically. Even if a pair is only platonic to begin with, there is a chance that romantic feelings could develop and distract the students, whether the feelings are mutual or one-sided.
Though it could be said that a person with a significant other would have those distractions regardless of where he or she lives, universities should try to offer the most focused environments wherever they can.
Beyond being sidetracked, students in many, though certainly not all, mixed-gender dorm rooms would inevitably have to deal with the conflict that comes with the end of a relationship. It's no secret that break-ups can be very emotional and awkward. Sharing a room would only intensify this. How could your girlfriend or boyfriend "give you space" when you practically live in a cubicle together ? There could be tension and hard feelings that would be make the situation unpleasant, if not unbearable.
Also, dating someone new could be uncomfortable, both for the ex and for the new person. Besides being problematic for the students, this would cause more headaches for resident advisers who have to counsel their residents and for administrators who deal with housing changes.
In a single-sex dorm room, roommates who dislike each other or have a falling out can often tolerate living together for the rest of the assigned time. But feelings after breaking up would cause many students to ask to change rooms. University administrators would then have that much more paperwork to handle.
Some students who sign up for these programs may not realize how uncomfortable it could be. A person whose never lived with a member of the opposite sex might not be familiar with all the routines the other gender goes through. It may be a rude awakening for some roommates when they realize that the other sleeps naked. This, again, could cause more troubles for RAs and administrators.
The worst-case scenario for coed dorm rooms could be an increased risk of acquaintance rape. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 77 percent of completed rapes are committed by non-strangers and 85 percent of rapes of college women are committed by an attacker the woman knows. Less than 2 percent of acquaintance rape victims actually report the attack.
Though it's unreasonable to think that most coed living situations would result in acquaintance rape, there is a chance that some would, and those would likely go unreported.
With all the problems that can arise from living with roommates of the opposite sex, it would be smarter and safer for universities to stop offering coed dorm rooms.
11. The Salt Lake Tribune, January 23, 2009
90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Gay students at BYU still struggle for acceptance
By Brian Maffly
Provo: Dan Embree came to Brigham Young University four years ago, in part, to iron out his sexual orientation.
Hailing from a Chicago-area Mormon family, Embree grew up believing his same-sex attraction was deviant and unclean. But he is healing in a way he did not anticipate when he matriculated at the church-owned school.
"I was not in a healthy frame of mind, doing self-destructive things," says Embree, a senior who is studying painting. "I did therapy and it didn't work. After my mission, I realized it wasn't going to go away. When I accepted that, it really improved my life."
Last fall, Embree was one of several gay BYU students who posed for portraits shot by photography student Michael Wiltbank. The portraits were hung as part of a class show, but after a week college administrators ordered the portraits taken down.
The move disturbed some BYU arts faculty, as well as critics who lit up the blogosphere with renewed allegations that BYU does not tolerate a free exchange of ideas. Within days, officials declared the portraits acceptable for public display and invited Wiltbank to rehang them.
The incident illustrates how sensitive the subject of homosexuality is on the BYU campus, particularly at a time when its owner, the Mormon Church, was playing a pivotal role in the divisive fight over California's Proposition 8, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Gay students say they sat through religion classes last fall, listening to professors liken the California ballot initiative to God's war against Satan.
"I have never been comfortable at BYU," Embree says. "During the Prop 8 campaign I had to listen to peers talk about homosexuality being the same as a pedophile and an alcoholic."
Looking for support » That BYU allowed the gay-portrait exhibit shows how far the school has come since the student days of its most famous gay alumnus, Bruce Bastian, who happens to be Embree's granduncle. Bastian, the Utah County software developer behind WordPerfect, attended BYU in the late 1960s when gay colleagues did not venture from the closet and many hid their struggle with same-sex attractions.
"It wasn't an issue because you wouldn't dare talk about it," says Bastian, who contributed $1 million to defeat Proposition 8. "If people let gay people be gay, there would be a lot less pain surrounding it all. Gay men shouldn't marry straight women and try to become straight."
Recent studies show that gays rejected by their families have a far higher incidence of suicide, while mainstream psychology flatly rejects therapies intended to "cure" same-sex attraction.
Wiltbank, a 28-year-old senior from the tiny Arizona town of Eager, solicited his portrait subjects through Facebook and his social networks. Embree and a friend went together to Wiltbank's Orem studio and sat in front of a camera as the photographer shot dozens of digital images of their faces.
"I participated to show other students who might be struggling that it is OK to accept the fact that you are gay and know that there are people at BYU who do support you," Embree says.
The faces in the finished portraits have neutral expressions with only the eyes in sharp focus.
"It's visual communication. When you want to get into someone's face you look in their eyes," Wiltbank says.
His untitled series was one of 16 student shows in a class exhibit hung in the Harris Fine Arts Center's Gallery 303 for a two-week run starting in late November. Four portraits each depicted a gay student along with a supportive person in his life.
"I have not included labels with these portraits as I feel that labels only create separation and division and further ungrounded stereotypes," Wiltbank wrote in an artist's statement. "We never know who may identify themselves as homosexual and I felt that not labeling these images would force us as a society to question what it is to be homosexual."
No Honor Code violation » On Dec. 5, the exhibit came down on orders from the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications to the dismay of gay students who sat for Wiltbank.
"The project wasn't promoting homosexuality," says English major Tommy Johnson. "It was promoting understanding of a group that doesn't have a lot of understanding in the Mormon power structure."
University officials declined to discuss the incident, attributing the take-down order to a "miscommunication" between arts dean Stephen Jones and faculty. Arts faculty contacted by the Tribune declined to speak on the record; while Wiltbank's professor, Paul Adams, also declined comment.
Administrators say the exhibit did not violate the university's Honor Code, which obligates students to abide by strict moral standards.
Last year, BYU sharpened its position on homosexuality to make it clear that same-sex attraction does not run afoul of the code, although acting on it does. Homosexual behavior and advocacy therefore constitute violations, according to university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.
"However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity," Jenkins wrote in response to e-mail queries. "Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable."
Bastian takes issue with the idea that gays should deny themselves one of the great comforts of life to remain in the good graces of the church.
"It's really unfair and ridiculous to say gay people are supposed to remain celibate," he said. "You get to live half a life? They are so determined to punish people who don't fit in their box."
Before his show, Wiltbank says he showed the portraits to arts faculty to ensure their support. He did exclude one portrait pairing that could be seen as an Honor Code violation because it depicted a friend's father who lives in a gay relationship.
In the ensuing hubbub, Wiltbank was unnerved that his exhibit upstaged the good work of his classmates, such as portraits of Mexican immigrants who held professional jobs in their homeland. Another series paired photos of natural objects, such as mushrooms and poppies, with the contraband they produce.
Still, Wiltbank sees the outcome as a "win-win" in that his ideas were aired, and BYU showed it isn't the fortress of bigotry and homophobia painted by critics.
"I can't tell you how may people have seen [the portraits]," says Wiltbank, who intends to move to New York City after graduation. "I thank BYU for that. I got the message out much farther than I could have on my own. I like that they are being used to open dialogue."
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