Editorial: Transgender student housing a worthwhile project
Published: Monday, October 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 7, 2013 01:10
Last week, the Tufts Community Union Senate voted unanimously in favor of the continued reexamination of Tufts’ policies related to transgender students, specifically regarding living arrangements. The resolution aims to ensure that transgender students feel comfortable and included on the Hill and that the university is appropriately addressing their needs and desires.
The resolution focuses on numerous issues that transgender students, especially first years, have historically had to deal with when applying for housing. Although transgender students beyond their first year are not actively restricted from living where they want to, gender-neutral housing is limited to Bush Hall, one Latin Way 10-person suite and one Hillsides 10-person suite. According to the resolution, “Bush Hall is historically one of the least popular dormitories on campus.” This means that transgender students seeking gender-neutral housing are left with only 20 “desirable” spaces.
Considering that transgender students who want to live in gender-neutral housing have to arrange a special meeting with the Office of Residential Life and Learning and are not necessarily guaranteed gender-neutral housing if a roommate switches rooms, it is clear that changes in policy are necessary. There is no reason that anyone should have to jump through housing hurdles to end up in a space where they feel comfortable, especially for those students beginning freshman year.
The university has come a long way in increasing diversity and making all students feel welcome on campus over the past few years. For instance, Health Service last semester expanded the student healthcare plan to include benefits for transgender students, making Tufts the 37th school in the nation to do so. Since then, other schools have followed suit and have even asked Tufts’ LGBT community for advice on how to go about expanding coverage.
This resolution is likely a sign of more changes to come in accommodating all students on campus and creating a better community for learning. This positive step forward will hopefully be one of many until all students feel included and have equal opportunities for success on the Hill.