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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Gender-neutral bathrooms, tuition hot topics for ASUA”

    Senators discussed tuition and tried to pass a resolution that would deny gender-neutral bathrooms for transgender individuals at the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate meeting last night.

    A proposal that would have distinguished bathroom use to two clearly defined sexes, set forth by Sen. Shawn Ingram, a finance junior, failed in the ASUA Senate.

    Jean Kleespie, assistant vice president of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office, said Ingram’s resolution would violate the university nondiscrimination policy.

    “”It wouldn’t be inclusive to write a restroom policy that only affects individuals with gender identity issues,”” Kleespie said.

    The debate stemmed from a statement passed by former President Peter Likins that will create gender-neutral stalls at the UA to make transgender people comfortable.

    There are 35 single-stall restrooms on campus that could be converted to gender-neutral bathrooms, Kleespie said.

    But Ingram’s resolution countered Likins’ statement, questioning the safety of students who may be made vulnerable by others who falsely claim to be of a certain gender.

    Ingram’s policy might lower the quality of inclusive UA standards and may stifle efforts to recruit the best staff and make our students feel most welcome, said Sen. Steven Gerner, a political science senior.

    “”I don’t feel the majority of students would be comfortable with this policy,”” Gerner said.

    Ingram’s policy called for precautionary clauses, such as not allowing students to falsely claim they belong to a certain gender.

    The UA should have a gender-specific bathroom policy, with clearly marked bathrooms for men and women, according to the resolution.

    There haven’t been any problems with the university’s existing policy, which allows students to use the restroom they best identify with, said Sen. Samantha Kerr, a pre-health education junior.

    “”We have made so much progress in this area,”” Kerr said. “”I am most uncomfortable in thinking the Senate could pass something that will take us back in time.””

    Ingram’s resolution failed within the Senate by a vote of 5-to-3, with two abstentions.

    Kleespie said the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office would like to make as many neutral restrooms on campus as possible, something future buildings will include in their designs.

    During the meeting, ASUA President Erin Hertzog explained the student tuition proposal set forth by the Arizona Students’ Association on Friday.

    The proposal calls for an increase of 2.3 percent, on the condition that the state Legislature gives the UA’s total budget an increase of at least 8 percent.

    If state funding does not come through, ASUA will be in full support of President Robert Shelton’s tuition proposal, Hertzog said.

    “”We don’t accept the president’s proposal until we are sure the Legislature will not provide resources with increase in state appropriation,”” she said.

    If the student proposal passes, it will change the way the tuition-setting process is viewed, Hertzog said.

    “”If the idea is lower tuition equals more state funding, we will set tuition lower and demand an increase (in state funding),”” Hertzog said.

    It wouldn’t be inclusive to write a restroom policy that only affects individuals with gender identity issues

    – Jean Kleespie, assistant vice president of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office

    The proposal also includes a reduction to the planned increase of the technology fee.

    Hertzog said she would like to see a technology fee of $15 next year.

    Shelton proposed an increase of $65 to the existing technology fee.

    An ASUA-sponsored tuition survey reflects similar student interests, she added.

    The proposal has a chance of passing if student participation in upcoming tuition discussions increases, Hertzog said.

    To accomplish this, ASUA is creating an electronic forum on its Web site where students can comment about tuition. Additionally, Hertzog said, ASUA will be handing out brochures, flyers and T-shirts that advocate the proposal and encourage students to contact the Arizona Board of Regents with their concerns.

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