Editor’s note: This column refers to a two-and-a-half star rating ASU received from the nonprofit organization Campus Pride. These figures were reported in a State Press article from May, as well as an article published in the Phoenix New Times in June. ASU has since improved its score in most categories and now has a four-and-a-half star rating.
With a new school year comes a flurry of moving into dorms, apartments, houses and greener pastures. Most who moved into a dorm can count on the usual suspects of anxiety. They’ll wonder, “Will my roommate like me? How will I clean my bathroom by myself?”
This is one activity, however, that doesn’t always bring excitement and opportunity to the LGBTQ community.
ASU does not have gender-neutral housing, a mainstay of nondiscriminatory and safe places for members of the LGBTQ community.
This is a real shame, because some members of this community may not feel safe living in a traditional room assignment and with roommates who just don’t understand.
Unfortunately, this is just another part of life that is unwelcoming and unsafe in the state of Arizona. In California and Colorado, many institutions strive to be inclusive, beginning as early as primary school.
Compare those policies to the recent “bathroom bill“ introduced in the Arizona state Legislature, which would have “allow(ed) police to stop anyone they suspect is not using the public bathroom … that matches the sex on their birth certificate.”
The proposed legislation only served to confirm the backwards way of thinking that still pervades many institutions in Arizona — that gender identity should be and can be policed.
While our state university counterparts at NAU and UA are both willing to confront the issue head-on, ASU is not inclusive in this respect.
If you’re trying to be inclusive as a university, it would make more sense to be upfront and open with your policies instead of making it incumbent on the students who need something to come to the front.
There was some concern over LGBTQ students’ right to safe housing in 2011, but for some reason, the movement at ASU never gained any traction.
Then, as The State Press reported in May, ASU removed a diversity coordinator responsible for LGBTQ issues.
An nonprofit organization called Campus Pride gives ratings out of five for inclusiveness on college campuses. This backwards-looking, do-nothing approach to LGBTQ issues won’t do anything to mend ASU’s pitiful two-and-a-half star rating.
Silence on the part of ASU’s housing and student government for the last year is a stark reminder that to be protected, people must fight for their rights. Without any protection or reason to feel safe, students identifying as LGBTQ won’t come to our university.
To those who moved in this week, keep in mind that some might not feel included as a result of University policies. To combat this, we as affiliates of the University should attempt to provide support to those who feel left out because they do not have access to all the amenities that would make them feel safer and more included.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow him at @PeterNorthfelt