By Christina Cronin
The Gender Identity Forum was held on Thursday February 15, 2018 in the Blue Lounge. The forum was led by Tiana D. Carrasquillo, Associate Director of Admissions. Carrasquillo is a member of the Gender Identity Sub-Committee, which is a sub-committee of the Campus Climate Committee. It was formed in the fall of 2017, and consists of administration, faculty, and students working to create a more inclusive campus climate for non-binary students.
In the spring of 2017, a campus climate survey was run through the Diversity, Inclusion, Affirmative Action, & Equal Opportunity office. The survey covered different races and genders to see how they felt on campus in terms of campus climate. Of the 25 percent of Worcester State University’s students that took the survey, the small percentage that identified as LGBTQ+ felt less welcomed in comparison to those who are not LGBTQ+. They felt that the curriculum did not reflect their identities and experiences.
Jaylen Creonte-Baird, president of Worcester State’s Pride Alliance, shared her experience with struggling to have her identity acknowledged. Jaylen was not able to just change her name in the system to her chosen name. Instead, she had to reintroduce herself to her professors. Jaylen stated that she would have felt more comfortable if Worcester State had made these changes before she arrived as a student.
As part of the policy changes discussed at the forum, the university will be asking students for their legal sex and students will be given the option to fill out their gender identity. The university’s software system will be updated to include legal name, chosen name, and preferred pronouns. These updates will be included in places such as a student’s OneCard, the Registrar’s office, student email addresses, etc. There was hesitation from students as to whether or not to include chosen names in the mailing lists for students’ homes. They feared this would bring up conversations with families that some students might not be ready to have yet.
The sub-committee is also planning Trans-focused allyship training and educational workshops for faculty in order to know how to properly address non-binary students.
There were still questions from students about plans for gender neutral physical spaces on campus, such as bathrooms. Carrasquillo replied that building more gender neutral bathrooms on campus would cause complications with the plumbing codes, but this is not an issue that the sub-committee can address.