In a controversial move, the Undergraduate Assembly recently passed a proposal advocating on-campus, co-educational housing.
Passed 23-2 with one abstention on Sunday night, the proposal is meant to curb the "unintentional heterosexist effects" of current policies, according to the resolution.
"The current policy is discriminatory against students... that are not heterosexual or students that prefer to live with a friend of the opposite sex," UA Secretary and Wharton junior Yelena Gershman said.
Despite student support, the proposal cannot take effect unless acted upon by University housing officials.
But the proposal will be brought to next week's meeting of the University Council's pluralism committee, where students will discuss the issue with Penn administrators.
Those in favor of the change are optimistic that the UA's stance will prompt action.
"I feel pretty strongly -- and so does the body -- that our proposal can have a pretty heavy effect on the administration," said College junior Jason Levine, a UA member who wrote the proposal. He added that the proposal's success would depend largely on the outcome of the upcoming meeting.
Also hopeful about the effects of the proposal, College sophomore Bradley Breuer said, "Something really has to catalyze the University."
Although not a member of the UA, Breuer spoke to the assembly, advocating the proposal.
Current "policy makes it very hard for gay people to get housing on campus," he said. "I really think it's an outdated policy."
Other schools -- including Quaker Consortium members Swarthmore and Haverford colleges -- already have policies in place similar to that advocated by the UA resolution.
Although some expressed reservations, most Penn students were in favor of the housing initiative.
"I think it's awesome," College sophomore Amelia Aldao said. "I think we should have the freedom to live with whoever we want."
Others in favor of the change were not easily won over.
"I don't think it's necessarily appropriate -- just wait until you live off campus," College freshman Laura Hughes said, adding that she was still "more for it than against it."
"I think there would have to be guidelines," she said. "Maybe it would work with a suite, like in Saved By the Bell: The College Years."
The possibility that student needs are already met through the alternative of off-campus living was discussed at the UA meeting, but representatives noted that financial concerns may prevent students from moving off campus.
Other arguments brought up at the meeting stressed the role that Penn should play in addressing policies some view as heterocentric.
"Each one of [us] pays tuition to attend this University, and we are all entitled to experience Penn in a manner best suited to our needs," Gershman wrote in an e-mail about general UA sentiment.
Yet, Gershman added that the body was still concerned about how parents, administrators and trustees would react to the proposal.
Hoping that -- despite these obstacles -- the changes could be implemented as soon as next fall, Breuer said, "I think the University should be on their toes."Comments powered by Disqus
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