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Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Members of ASM discuss during the Oct. 25 meeting.

UW-Madison student government designates campus a ‘trans sanctuary’

The legislation was passed at the Associated Students of Madison’s Oct. 25 meeting.

The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) voted unanimously Wednesday to designate the University of Wisconsin-Madison a ”sanctuary campus" for transgender and gender-diverse students. 

The legislation, “Sanctuary Campus for Trans Umbrella Students,” was proposed by Equity and Inclusion Chair Emmet Lockwood at ASM’s Oct. 12 meeting. Lockwood said the legislation aims to “create peace of mind for transgender and nonbinary students” at UW-Madison.  

It recommends lowest priority for UWPD enforcement of “punitive policing” toward trans and non-binary students, forbids University Health Services from using student fees to fund reporting of license reviews for trans health care providers and calls on Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin to declare UW-Madison a trans sanctuary before the state Legislature “enacts any bills that result in disproportionate punitive policing of trans and non-binary students.”

Kelly Tyrrell, director of UW-Madison’s Media Relations and Strategic Communications, told The Daily Cardinal in a Friday morning email that although ASM has an “important advisory role”, Chancellor Mnookin “must operate within the limits of both federal and state laws” when considering resolutions.  

Tyrrell said UW-Madison is “aware of the non-binding resolution ASM passed,” but ASM has not yet formally communicated it to the Chancellor.

“As Chancellor Mnookin has stated, all students at UW-Madison deserve to feel they belong and to have the tools to thrive,” Tyrrell said.

The vote also added five amendments to the legislation. It now mentions two-spirit individuals, protects academic freedoms for teaching and researching gender-diverse identities and bans University Recreation & Wellbeing from using segregated fees to take “negative and punitive action” based on a student’s gender identity.

Jess Harlan, ASM secretary, said it is “past time for [UW-Madison] to do something” to protect trans students, people they feel are often unsupported on campus. 

The trans sanctuary legislation follows the state Assembly’s vote earlier this month to ban trans girls and women from competing in high school and college women’s sports and to prevent doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors.  

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has promised to veto the Republican-backed bills.  

Harlan said the bills in the Legislature are “horrifying,” and UW-Madison leaders should take ASM’s trans sanctuary legislation “to heart”.  

“[Trans] students are here [and] actually mean something to this campus,” Harlan said.

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