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Amendments to Bathroom Bill Fail

In its final meeting of the school year on Saturday afternoon, the Undergraduate Council tied up loose ends by finalizing a resolution supporting gender-neutral bathrooms and allocating funds for activities next semester.

While the resolution supporting gender-neutral bathrooms passed by a vote of 32-3 at last week’s meeting, two amendments proposed on Saturday led the council to reexamine the issue.

The first amendment, proposed by Joseph R. Oliveri ’05, called to strike a clause from the bill that allowed people to use the bathroom that they deem appropriate. Oliveri said he was concerned that permitting such free reign could lead to more assaults in campus bathrooms.

“This is about safety for the overwhelming majority of the campus,” Oliveri said. “There is probably no place on campus that people are more exposed than in the bathroom.”

Council representative E.E. Keenan ’07 said that Oliveri’s amendment was discriminatory and that safety is not a valid excuse to modify the bill.

“I can’t tell you how many times in the history of government people use the safety argument to discriminate,” Keenan said.

Oliveri’s amendment failed 11-24. The second amendment, proposed by P.K. Agarwalla ’04, sought to add the city of Boston guidelines regarding “publicly and exclusively expressed” gender identities to the bill. Agarwalla said he wanted to add the regulations to help put the council’s position in line with Boston’s.

“This helps all alleviate the problems that a lot of us had and helps make it more in line with legal codes,” Agarwalla said. “I want to make it very clear that I am not trying to take away the rights of transgender people. I just want to make it more clear.”

Stephanie M. Skier ’05, who spoke on behalf of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance, recommended the council’s legislation stay as it is.

“The Boston law has not been tested in the courts,” Skier said. “[The council’s] bill that was already passed was more clear.” Agarwalla’s amendment also narrowly failed by a vote of 18-18, with Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05—who was chairing the meeting—stepping in and voting against the change.

In other business, the council passed legislation that allocated money for Movie Nights and Fallfest next term.

The council allocated $700 to sponsor “Tickets for Tutors.” The non-profit organization received 1,200 free tickets to this fall’s football games so that Harvard student tutors can bring their tutees.

Council Vice President Michael R. Blickstead ’05 announced that proposed changes to the council’s constitution came up two votes shy of the 75 percent passage threshold, 35-14.

The meeting began 25 minutes late due to a softball game between council members and The Crimson. Council members were noticeably disheartened by their team’s 31-8 loss.

—Staff writer Jeffrey C. Aguero can be reached at aguero@fas.harvard.edu.

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