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MCSG passes resolution seeking to make Mac a safe space for TGI students

On Tuesday, MCSG passed a resolution that will hold Macalester accountable for providing a safe and inclusive environment for students who identify as transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming (TGI).

Authored by Samuel Doten and introduced by Doten, Dan Bomberg, Oliver Schminkey, and Amy McMeeking, the resolution directly addresses expressed concerns of TGI students.

“This resolution is about increasing the visibility of issues, but also taking action on them,” Doten said.

“Most of the things we are suggesting require quite minor actions on the part of the college, but make a huge difference in the lives of TGI individuals,” Schminkey added.

The resolution takes action by asking for adequate access to single-use or all-gender bathrooms in every building, appropriate locker room facilities, housing that fits the needs of TGI students, and inclusive classroom environments.

Currently, many buildings on campus do not have all-gender bathrooms, which means TGI persons must walk between buildings to use the bathroom. It is also an issue of safety for people who may be unable to use binary gender bathrooms.

“When you don’t have those kinds of facilities, people aren’t safe and that’s a problem,” Professor Cat Jacquet said, who advised the authors of the resolution.

Simple changes in bathroom signage have a very real impact on the daily lives of TGI students. “It makes a world of a difference for me. I’m a non-binary trans person, and knowing that my college respects my humanity enough so that I can use restrooms just as conveniently and safely as everyone else is pretty vital,” said Schminkey.

The resolution also asks that Residence Life policies are inclusive and respectful of TGI students by “…making housing options and availability of facilities clear and accurately publicized when students designate their housing preferences.” Additionally, the housing preferences of individuals would be honored regardless of sex assigned at birth, and student residents would have easy access to appropriate bathrooms. Current policy states that if one person on a floor objects to an all-gender bathroom, the bathroom will be gendered.

The resolution asks for the same inclusivity and respect in classrooms. “Creating a safe classroom experience for all students is extremely important,” Schminkey said.

“A large portion of my personal discomfort at Macalester has stemmed from ignorance and/or disrespect from my professors,” Schminkey added in an email.

The addition of inclusivity training to existing faculty and staff development programs would address this through education about respecting students’ preferred names and pronouns and making sure transphobic and binarist class content is addressed appropriately.

The final priority of the resolution is to add clarity to existing college policies about name preferences and changes on academic and financial documents to affirm the preferred name and identity of students.

However, the resolution emphasizes that it is in no way “a complete course of action and should not be construed to address all TGI issues at Macalester College,” it is just an introduction to greater TGI inclusivity on campus. The authors of the bill emphasize that there is always more ways to affirm support for TGI individuals.

“It’s about institutionalizing these changes, instead of just making a one time statement,” said Doten.

March 7, 2014

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