USG advocates transgender rights, proposes controversial resolution

This semester, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) continues to work on new resolutions to improve student experiences on campus. Most recently, USG has passed a resolution it hopes will promote a safe, welcoming campus environment for transgender students. Various representatives are also working on a resolution which they hope will lead the university to divest from companies with material links to Israeli-occupied territories.

The recently passed transgender rights resolution advocates the needs of transgender students on campus, including the installment of gender neutral bathrooms.

“The initial work on this resolution was a result of President Trump’s original discussion about outlawing transgender people from serving in the military,” said second-year student and Weatherhead School of Management Representative Adrian Hattan, who co-authored the resolution. “We were looking at what we could do on our campus to support transgender students, which led us to talking to people at the LGBT center and people around campus.”

Gender neutral bathrooms are currently available in Tinkham Veale University Center, the Peter B. Lewis Building, Thwing Center and Sears Library. The resolution holds that the university is to provide gender neutral bathrooms in all facilities on campus, including signage to identify these bathrooms as all-gender. The policy will not require the new construction of restrooms; instead, the focus will be placed on converting existing facilities into gender neutral bathrooms.

“We wanted some permanent policies from the university that would really make it clear to transgender students what their rights are on this campus,” Hattan said. “So far, everyone has been supportive. We’re excited to see what happens.”

Other USG members are also working on initiatives, including USG Treasurer Tim O’Shea. Along with third-year student and former USG representative Andrew Thompson, O’Shea recently co-authored Resolution 27-04, a resolution which asks Case Western Reserve University to divest from holdings in companies directly tied to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. They together answered The Observer’s questions.

“Our resolution does not target the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, Israeli or Jewish culture or the right of Israel to exist as a state and as a Jewish state,” O’Shea and Thompson explained. “We merely target the occupation and the building of settlements.”

O’Shea and Thompson feel that by maintaining its holdings, the university is “culpable for the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The co-authors define companies with material links to Israel as “directly [providing] weaponry, security, prisons or military support” and “directly [facilitating] the building, maintenance or economic development of illegal Israeli settlements, outposts or settler-only roads and transportation systems on occupied Palestinian territory.”

For the prior, they cited Hewlett-Packard, a company that provides Israeli security services with softwares which the co-authors state “disrupt the freedom of movement of Palestinians within the occupied territories,” as the softwares report information on checkpoints and surveillance services.

Caterpillar, a construction machinery and equipment company, was the resolution’s authors’ example for the latter as it provides various machinery services to the building of Israeli settlements.

O’Shea and Thompson stated, “By divesting, the university would be doing to right thing and ending its involvement with apartheid.”