Students and faculty have been informed by an email sent from the policy administration at Jan. 25 of the modifications made on the anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies.
These policies included adding gender identity and expression and other groups of individuals and changing the binary and non-inclusive wording.
The policy changes included the additional categories of individuals that were not mentioned prior but protected by law.
In the non-discrimination policy, the beginning statement adds that it extends this protection to those regardless of their “color, pregnancy, genetic information, gender identity, and other categories protected under law.”
Similar changes were also made to the anti-harassment policy where it changes the statement that reading the university “prohibits any member of the faculty, staff, administration or student body from harassing any other member of the University community because of that person’s gender” to “…because of that person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and/or expression.”
In addition to these changes, the university also revises the pronouns and substitutes the use of words such as “he/she” for ones that are non-gender specific.
In the non-discrimination policy, the original statement reading, “The University encourages any person who feels he or she has been discriminated against…” changes to “The University encourages anyone who feels they have been discriminated against…”
These same pronoun changes were also revised in the anti-harassment policy and reworded with the intention to promote inclusivity.
During an interview with Dr. Hoa Nguyen, an assistant professor at VSU, states that these changes were proposed by VSU Campus Pride “as a key step in welcoming and affirming our transgender and gender non-conforming students.”
“I think it’s a positive change,” Heather Roberts, a senior English major at VSU, says.
According to Dr. Nguyen, VSU is one of only 10 other USG institutions to include gender identity in their non-discrimination policy and only 3 institutions to include gender expression. VSU is the first USG institution to give acknowledgement to both of these gender orientations in their university-wide policies.
Kyleigh Rice, a sophomore exercise physiology major, says “I think it’s a good idea to include both [gender expression and identity] in the policies.”
“Every student deserves to feel safe and welcomed,” Dr. Nguyen continues, “They deserve a better, more inclusive educational experience and to know that they belong on this campus.”
These policies are only a proposal made by VSU until it is officially approved by the University Council and the President, Dr. Richard Carvajal.
Written by Samiriya Hamilton, staff writer. Photo courtesy of The Spectator.