Expressing their desire for change on campus, students attended open meetings on gender-inclusive housing and the Diversity and Equity Board (DEB), held by the Queer Students Alliance (QSA) and Coalition at Oxy for Diversity and Equity (CODE), respectively, Tuesday.
QSA hosted a discussion with Residential Education and Housing Services (REHS) Director Chad Myers about incorporating new gender-inclusive housing both on and off campus. Students raised concerns over the fact that the only gender-inclusive living options on campus are limited to the rooms on the fourth floor of Berkus Hall.
Residents of Queer House pointed out that while a safe living space is of importance, the decision to live there is made difficult by the fact that the house lacks the basic amenities of other residence halls such as printers, stoves and washing machines.
When asked about gender inclusive house for first-year students, Myers said that some parents do not feel comfortable with a “son or daughter” rooming in a gender-inclusive room. When audience members pointed out that many students do not fit into the gender binary, he apologized.
During the meeting, Myers decided that Chilcott Hall would be ideal to test as a gender-inclusive residence because the restrooms could be modified by privacy visors. Myers also said that themed housing would be gender inclusive, as well as all of Berkus Hall, starting next year. A student in attendance raised concerns over whether or not students who need gender inclusive rooms would have access to them, because Berkus Hall is one of the most sought after residence halls on campus. Myers said that any student in need of gender-inclusive housing would be able to access it.
QSA Vice President Margaux Ziss (sophomore) expressed worries about whether not Myers’ affirmations would result in changes. Ziss said she was happy with the number of students at the meeting and the passion they expressed. Around 75 students were in attendance.
QSA President Alexis Morse (sophomore) was also hopeful that change would happen, especially after November’s occupation of the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center by Oxy United for Black Liberation.
“Post occupation, administrators have been forced to look at what students want, and so my outlook is more positive because of that,” Morse said. “I think the change will come more from the top down.”
At CODE’s teach-in, members of DEB emphasized the importance of DEB for the student body and holding the administration accountable, as well as the necessity of DEB funding. Representatives of DEB walked attendees through voting on Associated Students of Occidental College’s constitution proposal, and emphasized that 406 votes are necessary to reach quorum.
Representatives also recounted previous attempts to fund DEB last spring through student body fee increases of $10 and $7.
CODE White, an offshoot of CODE that formed last semester from a meeting of 200 white students expressing interest in supporting CODE, emphasized the need for solidarity from white allies in campus struggles for recognition.