The SMU Senate voted 34-3 to add an LGBT seat to the student governing body, according to SMU’s The Daily Campus. The issue must now go for a vote before the entire student body and requires a two-thirds vote.
This has been a contentious issue that has been debated and defeated every year since first introduced by student Tom Elliott in 2009. Several other Senate seats are reserved for groups of minority students. Others are designated for off-campus residents, specific dorms and frats and sororities.
One issue that previous Senates dealt with is identifying LGBT students — whether they needed to belong to one of the on-campus LGBT groups, if anyone who self-identified as LGBT could participate or if any student, including allies or even opponents trying to throw the race, could simply register to vote in that race.
During this period, SMU was voted a “most homophobic” school by Princeton Review each year, and the high-profile battle over this seat probably added to the perception of anti-gay discrimination on campus.
Elliott graduated in 2010 and now works in Chicago. He remembered how he felt after the defeat.
“It was disappointing since there was such a strong show of support by faculty, staff and students,” Elliott said. “Even with people coming in to talk to the Senate, it failed by a large margin.”
He said after he graduated, freshman Harvey Luna picked up the fight.
Elliott warned that the work’s not over since the student body must vote.
“It’s very important for people working on this to mobilize support on campus,” Elliott said.