The University of St. Thomas, a Catholic college in St. Paul, has responded to a video that went viral last week of residence life staff admitting they allow men who identify as women to room in female dorms.
The video, posted by O’Keefe Media Group (OMG), “appears to be heavily edited to fit a specific agenda,” the university claimed in a statement provided to the student newspaper.
1st OMG Citizen Journalist-Led Story:
A Citizen Journalist was rewarded $1000 for this recording obtained about a Catholic University allowing "trans girl" to room in the girl’s dorm without their knowledge. pic.twitter.com/eFmsTZnm1W
— O’Keefe Media Group (@OKeefeMedia) May 10, 2023
The video in question shows multiple staff members confirming to OMG journalists that a transgender woman could request cisgender female roommates and stating that they give transgender students preferential treatment.
The article from the student newspaper laments the fact that the video “includes multiple edits” and alleges that student housing staff have received “hateful phone calls and emails” following the release of the video.
“We want all students — including our transgender students — to feel a sense of belonging, connection and inclusion,” the university said.
Under the school’s housing policies, if a student shares their transgender identity with staff and wants to have a roomate, the school will make sure the students are “comfortable with the living arrangements,” the school explained.
The school, however, said that due to privacy laws, it does not share a student’s transgender identity with a potential roommate without the transgender student’s consent.
“In our experience, a single room is often the best option for a transgender student. Single rooms are first assigned to students who are granted single-room housing accommodations through Disability Resources. Once those assignments are made, Residence Life then assigns the remaining available rooms based on student requests, considering their personal needs,” the school said.
The University of St. Thomas’ Queer-Straight Alliance condemned the OMG video, calling it an “affront to the UST LGBTQIA+ community.”
“The comments in the video act as if all policies considering the LGBTQIA+ community is a dirty secret that only a few in the know truly understand what’s going on. In reality, there are multiple departments on campus who strongly stand by and support the Trans Community, and the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole,” the Queer-Straight Alliance said.
The group also posted on Instagram, suggesting that the university add a question on its housing survey asking students if they would be comfortable rooming with a transgender student.
“No student wants to live with someone who makes them uncomfortable,” the Queer-Straight Alliance said. “Especially for a trans student who is targeted for their identity, being forced to live with someone who is uncomfortable with them wouldn’t be great either.”
The group also acknowledged that transgender students are given preference for single rooms so they have their own bathroom and changing area “for their comfortability, and other students’ comfortability.”
In an email announcing the video, James O’Keefe, founder of OMG and former leader of Project Veritas, said there are more recordings of religious and conservative schools discussing transgender housing accommodations.