Oklahoma Daily Pushes for Gender-Neutral Campus Housing in Special Front-Page Editorial

The Oklahoma Daily is leading the charge to bring gender-neutral student housing to the University of Oklahoma.  In today’s issue, the paper splashed a special editorial calling for the housing policy’s approval across its entire front page.

As editor-in-chief Chris Lusk explained in a separate letter from the editor, “While a newspaper must inform, there are times when a newspaper must speak up for what’s right.  After much discussion, debate and deep thought, the Daily editorial board decided today was one of those times.”

In the spirited editorial call-to-arms, the paper declares gender-neutral housing a seminal part of “this generation’s civil rights movement.”  As it contends:

“The gender-neutral housing option students will present today to President David Boren would give students the choice to live with students of any gender. This is an important right for all OU students, but it is particularly important for GLBT students because it provides a safe home on campus– something many do not have.  Gender-neutral housing means the choice to live with someone whom students know will be supportive of their sexuality or gender identity.  It means freedom from discomfort, discrimination, harassment and fear.  It means the choice to live with those who are most comfortable with them, and, in turn, to live in the environment they find most comfortable– a right taken for granted by every other student at OU.  It means one small step toward equal treatment for GLBT citizens. It means a step into the 21st century for OU and for Oklahoma. It means the University of Oklahoma being a true leader.  It means equality.”

A separate video features Daily staffers offering their personal rationales for the paper’s decision to give over its front page to this important issue.

In the words of section editor Lindsey Ruta, “The decision to put the editorial on the front page is a really big thing.  It’s not what we typically do.  But big issues and big events call for big responses. . . . This is a social issue we can directly affect.  We can’t change the national standard. . . . But here we can influence a policy on our campus that is discriminatory and hateful against a certain group of our students. . . . I don’t think any of us can be proud to call ourselves Sooners until we know that we attend an institution that respects the equality and the rights and the liberties and the happiness of all of its students.”

My take: BRAVO.

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