September 3, 2014

EDITORIAL: One Cornell, One Community

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Last week, Cornell was chosen as one of the Top 50 LGBT-friendly campus by Campus Pride,  a national non-profit that  supports LGBT communities on college campuses.  In response, students said they believe that while the University has taken some measures to create a safe and accepting environment, there is more that can be done to promote an inclusive campus, especially for those with non-binary gender identities. We at The Sun concur with those concerned students and call on the University to help facilitate a more inclusive campus culture for members of the University community who identify with minority gender identities and sexual orientations.

Currently, Cornell has several support systems for LGBT students available — including HAVEN and the LGBT resource center — which we think are a good first step in becoming a truly LGBT-friendly campus. We also applaud the Cornell University Programming Board for enhancing the campus dialogue on gender identity by hosting transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox. However, we believe Cornell would benefit from greater engagement of non-LGBT students in the realm of awareness and advocacy.

For example, Tapestry of Possibilities, the anti-discrimination presentation that is a graduation requirement, ought to broaden the campus discourse by educating students about the presence of non-binary gender persons at Cornell. By doing so, the University would bring students who have had no prior exposure to alternative gender identities into the fold of a tolerant and inclusive campus culture. We assert that active and ongoing student exposure to sensitivity and tolerance education is crucial to the actualization of a more inclusive and accepting campus culture.

To help bring about this culture change, we suggest that the University enact substantive LGBT-friendly policy changes, such as more gender neutral bathrooms, gender-inclusive housing and platforms for LGBT students to voice their concerns to the administration. While there is some room for improvement, we at The Sun remain optimistic that the ultra-tolerant climate that Campus Pride portrayed in its rankings is attainable and already well within the University’s reach.