Inclusion at your home away from home

When will CNU fully accept a gender-inclusive structure to campus? 

The discussion of gender inclusivity has been presented time and time again, though it’s unsure whether or not action will be taken to have it fully structured on CNU’s campus. 

CNU has brought a few projects to the table in order to incorporate an inclusive, diverse campus. Safe Zone has been an initiative on campus that creates a support system and utilizes straight allies in the campus community. The effort has brought All-Gender restrooms to campus, which can be found using Safe Zone’s posting on the CNU website. 

All of the sophomore residence halls such as Potomac River Hall, James River Hall and Warwick, have All-Gender restrooms. However, I find it interesting that York River Hall and Santoro Hall, both freshmen buildings, don’t have an All-Gender restroom on the main floor. As a freshmen begins their CNU experience, it should be essential that everyone should have a “safe zone” in their residence. 

In regards to residence halls, one can see that the inclusive effort has yet to reach full circle on campus. Last spring, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) emailed the student body a survey in regards to gender neutral housing. The survey asked whether this would help the individual, or if they knew anyone who would use this proposed housing option. Since then, there has not been any updates on the matter. It should be noted that regardless of the percentage of students on campus who would use this housing option, it shouldn’t matter. CNU’s University Statement on Diversity and Inclusion (on the university’s website) states “We are dedicated to upholding the dignity and worth of all members of this academic community…,” but questioning the effort of gender neutral housing does not seem inclusive to me. 

For some students, CNU is their home. Campus has given them the opportunity to come out and not be afraid of their identity. Mothers and fathers from one’s hometown may not be as accepting as the CNU community. While the culture is one thing, the structure of a community is another. One thing that is missing for a home to be a home is the structure to live with whoever you want, regardless of gender. 

Professionals on campus treat students with the utmost respect, while students reflect that energy back. Professionals state that since we are now in college, we must start acting like adults. How can we act like adults if we are still treated like children in housing? 

Students on campus are supposed to stay on campus for three years, while PLP scholars must stay until they graduate. Due to this, institutional officers should communicate about changes to accommodate all campus community members.  

Imagine a home that promotes your academic achievement and personal development, and structures inclusivity and diversity as the backbone for the university. I would like to understand the financial complexities of turning over our current housing into a more welcoming housing option, and why it has been so difficult to complete. 

I believe that CNU should live by their statement and further embrace options that would give an inclusive and diverse environment on campus, and finally establish a gender neutral housing option. Throughout the housing application process, potential roommates could decide on how they would like to live and choose applicable options such as: “I am okay with living with a student of any gender” or “I am okay with sharing a bathroom with a student of any gender.”

It’s significant to separate from past traditional values and give an opportunity to those who would benefit greatly in gender neutral housing. I appreciate the steps taken so far, and hope the desires of students only continue to ensure the community does not feel segregated in residential halls.

~Ashley McMillan, A&E Editor~

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