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Proposal could ban gender-neutral housing at UNC system universities

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TWC News: Proposal could ban gender-neutral housing at UNC system universities
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CHAPEL HILL – A proposed policy by the UNC Board of Governors could block the gender-neutral housing program from starting before it begins.

Last November, the option to allow students of mixed genders to live together on the Chapel Hill campus was approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees. It's a day Kevin Claybren says he'll never forget. He and UNC's LGBTQ Center led the movement.

While many LGBT students have reported harassment, supporters say this policy is for all students.

Since that November meeting, a bill was filed in the state Senate to prohibit the option. It was discussed but later died in committee. Now, a proposed policy has resurfaced from the UNC System Board of Governors that would ban gender-neutral housing from all 17 universities.

“It makes no sense that our board of governors would be so apt to change a policy that the board of trustees had already supported,” said Terri Phoenix, director of the LGBTQ Center.

Opponents have called it a social issue but Phoenix says it impacts academic success.

“If you can't get enough sleep or you don't feel safe where you're living, you're not going to feel safe in class,” Phoenix said.

More than 2,000 students supported the idea but only four, including Claybren, have signed up for the program. He says the small number doesn't represent the demand of the student body.

“This is not something that affects a small number of people, it is a broad-based issue, no one should be victimized or harassed in their housing experience,” he said.

A call to the board of governors chairman was not returned but one board member told us the policy will be voted on at its next meeting on Aug. 9. Classes at UNC begin on Aug. 20, so if the policy passes, students will have just a few weeks to look for new housing.

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