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Campus progress is collaborative

Many efforts on campus are not well tracked and this can lead to multiple people working on the same project, as well as people working on projects that were basically already done and just not clearly written into policy yet. Before I even came to this college three years ago, LGBTQ+ students and faculty were working on the housing initiative that has recently formed into the new gender-inclusive policy. A student who is now a senior worked on it along with Melissa Chesanko, Nathan Fein and Carly Jones before I even thought about talking with them the summer after my sophomore year. This work reached a climax last semester when all of us who cared about this issue finally came together to discuss what would eventually become this new policy, something that Residence Life had basically already been implementing in some forms for LGBTQ+ students but did not yet have a written policy for. It is thanks to the years of work of students and the changing climate on campus that people who previously only felt comfortable living on Kenarden second floor can live now in several other buildings on campus. It is important to remember this buildup of work on campus. This policy is something I’m very proud of as an individual but I am also proud of as a member of the LGBTQ+ community because I know it is because of a group effort over years that I was able to be a part of a policy change that hopefully will outlive my time at the College. 

It is important to try to find the history of an issue and the others who are working on it before starting work on something. I’ve often found in my time as an Student Government Association senator that projects I want to start are things that Melissa Chesanko (Director of Sexuality and Gender Inclusion) or another student have already been working on. An important project I’ve cared about since the beginning of this school year is LGBTQ+ student health issues, especially around sexual health. This has a lot to do with the information in the pamphlets at Wellness. I’ve met with Ray Tucker about the issue. I’ve done background research and I’ve met with other students to find out what language in the pamphlets they found offensive or outdated. I know, though, as I’ve recently found out, that there are other groups of students and faculty in Wellness who are also trying to update the pamphlets. It’s important to me that we all get together because I do not want to update the pamphlets alone and I especially do not want several different individuals and groups working on an issue at the same time without talking to each other. I do not want any of us to have our work go to waste. I hope we can resolve this and get pamphlets in Wellness that are newer and more accurate to the truth of LGBTQ+ students’ lives.

 So, remember when you start a project to not just assume, as I have sometimes, that you’re the only one. You most likely are not. Do not be afraid to reach out to offices and other students who might care about the issue. It’s highly likely that you, as I did, do not know enough about the history or the current goings on of the issue. Let’s learn from the past and help make our community better in the future for LGBTQ+ people and all other students on campus. If you have an idea, do it! Or tell a Student Government Association representative about it. Change may take years, but getting the ball rolling like students did before us is just as important as the end result that will happen with the sturdy building blocks we create. 

Robin Perry, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at RPerry20@wooster.edu.

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