Slice of nice: Nov. 3, 2011
Taylor’s Slice of Nice is a weekly column that focuses on good things happening around the globe and takes a look at how we can implement them locally.
What they’re cooking up:
Grinnell College in Iowa is among the first to challenge the gender binary through offering students gender-neutral dorms and
The idea, driven by the university’s transgender population, was put into place three years ago to eliminate the discomfort and alienation felt by students transitioning from one gender to another. This way, students are no longer asked to identify themselves as male
One floor each in a few of Grinnell’s dorms are now gender neutral, and the floors’ common bathroom is also gender neutral if students living on the floor unanimously vote that they should be. Toilets have stalls and showers have doors so that anyone can use the facilities at the same time, according to an article in the Des Moines Register.
The change is about comfort and making all students feel welcome. Even with a small number of transgender students making up the campus population, those students are now undeterred from attending Grinnell and feeling comfortable there.
How it can be homemade:
The shift must first begin mentally, with all members of the campus community acknowledging that gender is a spectrum, not simply a rigid, black-and-white, female-or-male dichotomy. Especially at this transitional time in our lives, students are questioning who they are and trying to figure it out.
With events our campus hosts, such as National Coming Out Day and the Eau Queer Film Festival, we should take our acceptance a step further and make it clear to both current and potential students that we welcome individuals at every point on the spectrum.
Gender-specific dorms Oak Ridge, for females, and Horan, for males, might be the best places to start by allowing students who identify with the dorms’ respective genders to live among the gender they feel most comfortable identifying with.
Or, to ease the process of transitioning from one gender to another, a few of the co-ed floors in other dorms could become gender neutral, like at Grinnell, saving students the discomfort of having to identify their gender.
Even if just a few Eau Claire students feel more comfortable due to such a switch, it’s progress. Those are a few students who will consider Eau Claire an inviting, accepting home and will feel comfortable living and going to school here.