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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Walton Hall files Title IX complaint

The+complaint%2C+which+was+filed+on+Feb.+1%2C+has+roughly+60+days+to+be+investigated+by+the+Title+IX+office+but+can+be+extended+if+necessary.
Photo by Alexis Will

The complaint, which was filed on Feb. 1, has roughly 60 days to be investigated by the Title IX office but can be extended if necessary.

Following the Jan. 25 announcement of Walton Hall becoming a co-ed, freshmen-only dorm, current Walton residents are not happy with the change and have filed a Title IX complaint claiming gender discrimination.
The complaint, which was filed on Feb. 1, is based on the fact that, starting in the fall of 2017, there will be four all-female dorms on campus in comparison to no all-male housing.
The Title IX office has begun its investigation into the case, said Margaret Zapalac, associate vice president for University Risk and Compliance.
“Once a civil rights complaint is filed, a review of the information is needed to determine how to proceed,” Zapalac said. “TAMU strives to complete investigations in a timely manner, e.g., approximately 60 days, however this may vary depending on the severity and extent of the complaint and/or the complexity of the investigation.”
Electrical engineering sophomore and Walton Hall Council president Nadir Pozegija said after the announcement, Walton Hall residents began to act quickly, trying to fight for their dorm to remain all-male and open to all years.
“We announced [Walton going co-ed on Jan. 25] — Wednesday  night. Thursday morning we all just started discussing possible actions we could take,” Pozegija said. “That was an idea … [to file a Title IX complaint] is one that has been around for a while”
The complaint was filed not only to preserve the community Walton residents have built, but also to continue to support all living preferences, Pozegija said.
“So the dilemma is not just about Walton, it comes down to as a whole … for fairness and equality there is no all-male housing left oncampus anymore but there are four all female dorms” Pozegija said. “I know, myself included, there a lot of people that, given the choice of all-male or co-ed they would prefer all-male, they just prefer that environment and that atmosphere.”
While residents of Walton have expressed they feel the decision to make Walton co-ed is a punishment for incidences that have taken place over the past year, Carol Binzer, Director of Sustainability, Development in Residence Life, said the actual reason for going co-ed and freshmen-only is an initiative from the Provost’s office and one that long predates recent problems with Walton Hall.
“Every year we do the assessment of supply and demand and over the last — I think it’s been three or four years now — there’s been an emphasis, a push, from the Provost’s office to do some freshmen priority,” Binzer said. “We know the research — the national research and Texas A&M research — supports that living on campus, preferably for your first year … gives you a slight edge in GPR and retention and in time to graduation in the four years and not the six years. The data says you’ll be more likely to go to graduate or professional school.”
While Walton Hall has filed the Title IX complaint  claiming discrimination, TAMU Residence Life said the decision to make the hall co-ed does not stem from removing all-male dorms, rather a business directive.
“Occupancy is our driver. We are an auxiliary enterprise, so no money from the state, no money from the university. In fact, we pay an auxiliary tax. We are dependent on students’ rents. So keeping our occupancy as high as possible is the driving goal,” Binzer said.
While there statistically are not enough males wanting to live in an all-male dorm, the trend shows the opposite for women.
“When I have single-gender male dorms, they don’t fill up. If I don’t have enough students rooms go empty. So we’ve been moving toward more co-ed for more flexibility,” Binzer said. “Over the last few years the trend has been we have a few more women seeking on campus housing.”
Brian Okosun, poultry science senior and resident of Walton Hall since the fall of 2012, said while he feels there are negative stereotypes surrounding his dorm he is hopeful that Walton can be saved so that residents can work to change that perception.
“I’m not going to pretend to be ignorant of the way people see Walton Hall. I understand that there a lot of people who don’t understand our community and why it is the way it is and don’t want to get to know our community,” Okosun said. “But there’s that old phrase, ‘From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, from the inside looking out you can’t explain it,’ so that’s pretty much the way it is with Walton.”
Ultimately, for Walton residents, the fight to stay on campus is one that stems from a hope to stay true to the tradition they have come to love, Pozegija said.
“We want to remain as close as possible to our source, to our roots, and our roots are Walton Hall the building, the dorm on campus,” Pozegija said.
Editor’s note: Brian Okosun is a current photographer who works for The Battalion.

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