Correction: An earlier version of this viewpoint misspelled one author’s name.
While we truly appreciate the coverage that The Michigan Daily has given to open housing, the most recent editorial discussing the issue missed the substantial progress and key conversations that the Open Housing Initiative has been promoting over the last two years (Closed housing, 11/29/2010).
The Open Housing Initiative believes that adding the option to choose a roommate, regardless of gender, is the next step in honoring the history of social justice and respecting the lived experiences of University students. The implementation of open housing will foster a safer, more inclusive community for those living in the residence halls as mandated by the Living at Michigan Credo, the University’s non-discrimination policy and the Michigan Difference Commitment.
The Open Housing Initiative has made significant progress in the two years of its existence. This semester has brought about the most significant movements forward in the form of continued educational outreach and the report submitted last week by the Open Housing Initiative to University administrators.
The increased attention to educational outreach elevated this proposed policy change to the agendas of both the Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper and Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones and their respective advisory boards. Because Harper oversees University Housing and Jones oversees students, they each hold a large stake in shaping University policy. These conversations were not taking place at any level of the University administration last year, so the fact that these two advisory boards are now devoting significant time to considering open housing and how to implement it is an incredible step forward.
The report submitted this semester provides a detailed outline of what policy options would be best suited for this campus. The report logically outlines where University Housing is failing to abide by its own credo and the university’s non-discrimination statement. It also provides the exact method by which University Housing can implement the policy. This includes changes to the application process as well as when and which students would have access.
Administrators were expecting this proposal be submitted in January 2011 because of the extensive research and thought required to make it impactful. The fact that it was submitted two months in advance of this expectation allows them time to digest and analyze the proposal and have other necessary conversations.
The Monday editorial from the Daily failed to include these important details. For this reason, we believe it was irresponsible for the Daily to have effectively declared the initiative dead on arrival for next fall’s on-campus residents. The Daily should have realized that Housing administration is not the only relevant actor involved in the discussion regarding this important change to University policy. The Daily should have spoken to others involved in the conversation on open housing before making such sweeping statements. We agree that progress on this issue has been difficult, but students have not stopped fighting. To insinuate that we have not met our goals is simply incorrect.
This viewpoint was written by Chris Armstrong, Brendan Campbell, Allison Horky and Alex Serwer on behalf of the Open Housing Initiative.