Support for LGBTQ staff from the LGBT Resource Center has been limited by a shortage of staff, said members of the University Assembly’s Campus Welfare Committee at its Tuesday meeting.
After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo stating that workplace discrimination against transgender people is not included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex — the committee said it plans to support an Employee Assembly resolution designed to “advance workplace protections and to promote LGBTQ inclusion.”
The resolution, sponsored by Ulysses Smith, chair of the Employee Assembly, would ask for three new full-time staff positions in the LGBT Resource Center. The resolution also calls for the Division of Human Resources to consider allowing prospective employees to self-identify as LGBTQ, to ensure protections to LGBTQ employees traveling abroad on behalf of Cornell, and to provide guidance for gender-related transitioning in the workplace.
Elena Michel, grad, noted that this staffing increase would help the struggling center better accomplish its goals.
“They’re extremely overworked, even when there were two people there,” she said. “They weren’t being able to do all the initiatives and support everybody that they wanted to at the time.”
The overarching goal would be to create one large University Assembly resolution that would combine feedback from various Cornell constituencies to promote a strong policy of LGBTQ inclusion, said Joe Anderson ’20, Campus Welfare Committee chair.
“Ulysses and I discussed that the CWC would look at this so we can bring in an undergraduate perspective on it, and a graduate perspective, and a faculty perspective, and so we can kind of create one big [resolution] from the U.A. that looks at it and is like, here is a sort of omnibus overhaul of what LGBTQ inclusion at Cornell looks like,” Anderson said.
However, Anderson emphasized the need to “give credit where credit is due,” calling the E.A. the “champions” of the work on crafting this resolution.
“The Employee Assembly has really been at the forefront of creating a working environment here at Cornell that promotes LGBTQ people and inclusion,” he told The Sun. “The CWC is just here to be that supporting voice that keeps the other constituencies involved in that conversation.”
The committee also discussed expanding the reach of a Student Assembly resolution introduced last Thursday that calls on the University to provide financial aid to international students experiencing “extenuating circumstances.”
Currently, international students who did not initially receive financial aid when applying to Cornell cannot apply for aid during their time as undergraduates, according to S.A. Resolution 15.
Anderson, who is planning to reach out to the Diversity and International Students Committee of GPSA, noted that the resolution could be “outfitted” to include masters and professional students.
Anderson said he hopes that the resolutions discussed at the meeting will all be successful.
“I really think each one represents a really important part that Cornell needs to be doing,” he said.
Correction: A previous version of this article said that support for LGBTQ students from the LGBT Resource Center has been limited by a shortage of staff. In fact, the resolution Smith sponsored pertains specifically to staff.