Petition for gender inclusivity in new dorm circulates among U of L students Thursday, Mar 11 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

A petition to make the New Residence Hall (NRH2021) gender-inclusive has begun circulating among the student body in response to U of L’s decision to postpone the gender-inclusive setup of the new student living space.

The petition, signed by 911 members of the U of L community and authored by Orvelle Thomas, criticizes the university’s decision.

“Allowing gender-inclusive floors would be a step in the direction of the University fulfilling its promise of maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus,” Thomas wrote in the petition.

Sabrina Collins, Student Government Association (SGA) president, provided a letter from June 2020 that the Top 4 of SGA sent to Campus Housing in support of gender-inclusive housing.

It included a description of what it means to have gender-inclusive housing. “An open housing policy, also known as all-gender housing at other institutions, would allow students to live together regardless of sex assigned at birth, gender identity, or gender expression,” it said.

“This school has consistently been named one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly universities in the South,” Thomas wrote. “But giving in to societal pressures, and maintaining a deliberate anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, does not make the University of Louisville deserving of that award.”

Collins has signed and advocated for the petition. When asked how the petition began, Collins said that there was no official announcement from the university that gender-inclusive housing would be featured in the new dorm.

“However, it was very clear to SGA and other campus-wide partners that this would be the case, as we have been involved in the design process from the very beginning,” she said. According to the petition, the university had decided to postpone this decision, saying that this policy needed a “trial year.” This decision by the university prompted student pushback.

SGA’s June letter also contains the Top 4’s belief in the importance of gender inclusivity in campus housing.

“SGA believes that every student has a right to equitable and accessible living opportunities on our campus,” they said. “Our current residential living system of sex-based assignment (male, female) does not support the members of our growing LGBTQIA community and non-binary community. U of L’s existing, sex-based assignment system has placed an undue labor on this resident population to request housing accommodations and repeatedly justify their gender/sex identity to unfamiliar staff members.”

Thomas Hardy, director of Campus Housing, reiterated the university’s efforts to diversity and inclusion.

“The University of Louisville is recognized as a national leader in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. U of L Campus Housing is determined to support and build on that commitment,” he said.

Hardy also detailed U of L’s recent announcement that the new residence hall is slated to include one gender-inclusive floor. Further, the university plans to include gender-neutral restrooms throughout the residence hall.

“We want to thank the students who have argued passionately about the needs for this accommodation, and we want to assure all our students that their well-being is at the forefront of all we do,” he said.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Louisville

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Student petition asks for extended withdrawal date and universal pass/fail policy Tuesday, Oct 20 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

A student-led petition advocating for an extended withdrawal date and the option for students to make their classes pass/fail this semester has been circulating among University of Louisville students. It has received over 3,000 signatures.

Jordan Stewart, a sophomore at U of L, created the petition after hearing multiple U of L students discuss the struggles of trying to navigate college in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the petition began to circulate, the university announced that it would push back the withdrawal date for classes to Nov. 17. However, it will not be implementing the pass/fail policy implemented for the Spring 2020 semester.

The university gave several reasons for the pass/fail decision, citing that allowing too many pass/fail classes can risk losing accreditation and that “minimal passes do not guarantee success in the next course in a sequence, and allowing students to pass a requirement with a D- frequently harms their chances of future success in their major.”

Furthermore, the university’s email mentioned that students can choose, prior to the start of the semester, if they wish to declare a class pass/fail.

“They should exercise those options for spring, after consulting with their advisors,” U of L officials said.

The university also expressed concerns of a broad pass/fail policy encouraging disengagement and mediocre performance among students. Additionally, U of L pointed to the fact that many graduate and professional schools have not extended a pass/fail leniency to prerequisites taken during the Fall 2020 semester.

Of the announced pass/fail decision, Stewart said that is was upsetting because of the current state of the world.

“I understand what they had to say about the pass/fail for this semester but at the same time it’s really aggravating because no one asked for a pandemic to be thrown on them while they’re in college,” she said. “It’s irritating that they won’t see that it is so much harder for students to complete assignments and deal with professors who are not good at clearly communicating what they want during this time.”

However, Stewart was “ecstatic” to see that the university decided to push back the withdrawal date to Nov. 17. “Even if it wasn’t because of my petition it was still something I wanted,” she said.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Petition demands The Marshall move leasing office trailer Thursday, Sep 26 2019 

By Maggie Vancampen — 

As of 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 26, 1,260 students have signed a new student-run petition calling for the removal of the Marshall leasing trailer from Brandeis Avenue.

Junior mechanical engineering major Ryan Cardwell started the petition. He first mentioned it on an event page that eventually became a spot to discuss the leasing office instead.

Cardwell made the petition to gauge if people care about the office.

He created the petition on opening day of the Marshall leasing office, when the company encouraged students with free merchandise to get them to sign leases.

University of Louisville spokesperson John Karman said the university posted a sign next to the trailer to clarify the Marshall is not university-affiliated housing. He also said he wasn’t aware of the petition.

“Students are free to share it with the city and with the developer of the Marshall,” he said.

Aptitude Developments co-founder Jared Hutter said that when they originally started looking at U of L, they couldn’t find any offices or buildings they could lease. They got creative and decided on the trailer.

“The University of Louisville doesn’t really have a main retail corridor where we could ultimately put a leasing office,” he said.

Hutter said they applied for a street closure permit on a temporary basis to put the trailer on Brandeis Avenue because of a university plan to make the municipal street a park for students. The street is controlled by the city.

When asked about the park plan, Karman said, “There are no formalized plans at this time.”

Hutter said for students who walk, the trailer has no impact. He understands traffic had to be changed though. “If you are driving down Brandeis Avenue, on to campus, where are you going? There is not really any parking over there, they just have to go up one extra block to go around,” he said.

Hutter said he is aware of the petition, but doesn’t think the students have all the facts. “Conversations are great,” he said. “I think it is important that for people to have all the facts out there so they can make informed representation of about what their opinion is going to be.”

Student Government Association President Jasper Noble said he takes issue with how the trailer happened, and how the university did not have the ability to stand up to this decision and could only react.

He’s concerned that students will sign leases with the Marshall and they will assume these leases will be upheld to the same accountability standards that normal university-affiliated housing offers.

“One of the goals is to create a process where U of L can play an active role in decisions that the city makes in and around the university,” he said.

Noble would love to work with the company to move the trailer, and work to find a different location for the leasing office.

“I think they want it to be a successful property, a successful student housing option, I’m just not sure they are aware of the scope of the students discontent with the trailer,” Noble said.

“We are open to having productive conversations with any local group that has an interest in the area. I feel that is our responsibility as we look to be a supportive member of the community for many years to come,” Hutter said.

Hutter’s concern is the expenses.

“What would need to be taken into account in any conversation however is that our team went through the appropriate path to legally obtain a permit and then spent well over $150,000 to build out a leasing office with a scale model apartment to show residents what the experience will be like when they live at the Marshall,” he said.

“To move the office now, there would be a significant expense and my first question would need to be who is paying that expense?”

According to Noble, students aren’t even aware of where the Marshall is. They just know about the trailer.

Hutter said the Marshall is ahead of schedule and will be finished in Spring 2020.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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