Spring - A Time for Awakening

By Chris Heasley

Spring is a time of rebirth and presents an opportunity to understand something familiar in a new way. Reflecting on equity, below are four action-oriented ideas offered in response to the following: (1) In what ways do our campus policies and procedures allow transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming community members to experience equity, safety, inclusion, and care? and (2) What steps might we take to create a trans inclusive climate?

Administrative policy review. Campus policies ought to embrace individuality and support one’s expression of their authentic self. For example, institutions might consider a practice that allows for preferred name collection and representation in campus records.

Universal design (UD) practices. Employing a UD approach early in conceptual stages of new facility construction and renovation projects reinforces a commitment to creating spaces accessible and welcoming to all users. Implementation of this practice might include bathroom privacy, gender inclusive dressing/locker rooms, and sufficient availability of all-gender restrooms. 

Classroom inclusion. Faculty can enhance safety, inclusion, and classroom care by ensuring course syllabi have inclusion statements for preferred name and pronoun use, expectations for community engagement, and guidelines for developing and maintaining an inclusive learning environment. Language and terminology should represent the diverse characteristics of the community and speak to all members.

Community development resources. Training for the campus community is an ongoing initiative. Addressing terminology, providing advocacy opportunities, ensuring safe spaces, and discussing on-campus resources are important for trans and gender non-binary community members.

These ideas are framed as resources to HELP those who are less aware about this topic. Let’s be brave and engage in dialogue about sex, gender, identity, sexuality, and expression, and what it means to be a welcoming and inviting campus for all community and campus visitors. With explicit reference to our Ignatian values of ‘cura personalis’ and ‘magis’, let’s approach these topics with care for the whole person and in a manner that supports living greater. 

Chris Heasley is an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership at Saint Joseph’s University. Prior to his full-time role as a faculty member, Dr. Heasley spent more than eighteen years in higher education administration in student housing, auxiliary services, student affairs, Greek life, and student orientation.

The cover photo is featured courtesy of Ted Eytan of the Flickr Creative Commons.