Femscope -wmd -dlh

Lauren Duckman

This winter term, each student in the Gender Studies 200 class, “Intro to Feminist Theory and Practice,” is required to complete an activism project. For this assignment, we are to utilize theory from a feminist scope in order to make some sort of impact on our community. Throughout the term, my group’s focus has been on the present off-campus housing situation and its regulations. In an effort to inform the Lawrence community about this matter and related issues, my group members and I have decided to submit three consecutive articles to the *******Lawrentian*******. This first article will focus on current obstacles one faces in order to live off-campus, and why those can be problematic. The second article will look at the same type of difficult issues, and apply them to the situations of the Lawrence faculty. Finally, the third article will concentrate on how these campus issues relate to a nationalized perspective.
I would guess that many Lawrence students on this campus are unaware of the requirements one must meet to live off-campus. Given that Lawrence highly regards its strong sense of community, this is hoped to be a topic that not many students will encounter during their university years. I myself was unsure of what exactly the guidelines were, so to be fully informed I spoke directly with Dean Truesdell. In this meeting, she was very helpful, and thoroughly explained each one of the different reasons a student may use in order to request to live off-campus. The possible reasons are: being a fifth year student, having graduated from high school more than four years ago, having medical/health issues, having a dependent child, or being married or currently involved in a domestic partnership. The first four issues, although requiring their fair share of appropriate documents, are straightforward and easy to prove. Therefore, the issue of being married or in a domestic partnership is what my group decided to focus on.
In order to prove one is married, a marriage license is sufficient, but to secure a documented domestic partnership is much more difficult, especially for students. The possibilities of paperwork range from joint leases, mortgages, ownership of property, beneficiaries in a will or life insurance, power of attorney, and joint bank accounts or credit cards. Then, if one is capable of providing sufficient examples of established partnership, one is further required to have been living with one’s partner for at least six months, and to plan to do so indefinitely.
The questions my group asked are: why must students who cannot or choose not to marry obligated to provide significantly more “evidence” of partnership than would a married couple, and why does this proof put so much emphasis on legal documentation. Married couples need not provide evidence that they share bank accounts, nor credit cards, nor are they obligated to prove that they are financially responsible for their partner. Given all the required paperwork, one could easily perceive this situation as biased towards married couples.
The bottom line is that couples who are not married have significantly more obstacles placed in front of them if they desire to live off-campus. For those who are capable of getting married, it seems like they may be “forced” into the decision in order to receive the same benefits as a married couple. Whatever the position of the couple may be, Lawrence’s value of a community campus is ever so present in its off-campus living regulations.