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College responds to recent federal actions

Reaffirms commitment to affected College students

Caren Holmes
Staff Writer

The College made a statement on Feb. 22 in a campus-wide email in response to recent federal actions including federal guidance to remove protections for transgender students under Title IX and detailed guidance for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding heightened immigration enforcement.

In his campus-wide email, Dean of Students Scott Brown expressed concern for students whose livelihood may be threatened under current federal administrative uncertainty. He highlighted campus resources and personnel available to support students during this time of political unease.

Melissa Chesanko, director of sexuality and gender inclusion in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) explains that the federal changes surrounding transgender student rights are not founded in new legislative measures but in changes to guidance regarding interpretations of Title IX policy.

While federal guidance surrounding trans inclusion in Title IX non-discrimination policy remains uncertain, Chesanko highlights internal policies at The College of Wooster, which include gender, gender identity and gender expression within non-discrimination standards. She encourages Wooster students to continue self-education surrounding discriminatory legislation as well as to advocate “to local and state government to begin including sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination policies, as these are not a part of Ohio law.”

In other terms, while federal mandates may not outline anti-discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity and expression, allies are encouraged to advocate for these policies on a more local level.

Both Chesanko and Brown highlighted the efforts of the school to increase awareness about issues affecting trans and non-binary persons and to provide support for gender diverse students.

CDI is offering a trans and non-binary support group for students who wish to participate in dialogue about these issues within the trans and non-binary community. In addition, Chesanko, as a part of CDI, is facilitating Safe Zone programming which is open to students, staff and faculty and is designed to increase understanding of gender and sexual diversity.

Additionally, Brown detailed in a separate correspondence, that the College is working to provide additional all-gender bathrooms for students in existing facilities, “as we are able.” However, he did not specify where or when the expansion of all gender bathrooms would take place.

Brown expressed that administrators and members of CDI are monitoring federal legislative changes closely. He explained that in the wake of political uncertainty the College “will not waiver in our dedication to supporting trans students,. We will keep moving in a positive direction and add in a greater level of communication as it is more important than ever for students to see transparency in our actions.”

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