LGBT senate seat fails to pass

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SPECTRUM members show support of the LGBT seat (from left to right) Harvey Luna, Kathrina Macalanda, Shelbi Smith, and Colton Donica. (Courtesy of Shelbi Smith)

After 10 years of failed attempts to gain an Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender seat in the Senate chamber, history repeated itself this week.

Election results yielded 59 percent of the votes in favor of the LGBT seat referendum. The bill failed to gain the required two-thirds majority vote.

Former Vice President Jaywin Singh Malhi was one of the authors of the bill that would establish a LGBT senate seat.

Speaking in favor of adding the bill adding a seat to the chamber, which has failed to pass for a decade now, Malhi said the LGBT senator could do many things, such as work on effectively molding SMU policies that affect the LGBT students on campus.

Malhi’s motivation to work for the bill came from the SMU Civil Right Pilgrimage trip that he went on last Spring Break. He learned how minorities came together during the civil rights movement to drive progress in America.

He wants to see SMU make progress a similar same way by, “building coalition among the minorities on campus and have their voices heard.”

Malhi said the students are going to start a petition and collect signatures before next Tuesday calling again to establish this seat.

“The result was disappointing, but there is a silver-lining,” Malhi said. “It’s not the end of the story.”

The next step will help SMU make a statement to the rest of the community that it is LGBT-friendly, said Shelbi Smith, co-president of SPECTUM — the only LGBT undergraduate student organization.

The LGBT senator could help change the campus culture toward the LGBT students, she said.

“Words like faggot are written on walls and thrown around casually. These are little things but they mean a lot to the LGBT community,” Colton Donica said.

“I am surprised to hear the result. Maybe people didn’t really understand what the referendum [would do],” said Harvey Luna, one of the main forces behind the bill. “There could be other reasons too, so we should definitely look into it.”

Fighting for this issue is “re-affirming” to the LGBT students, especially those in process of coming out, Luna said.

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