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Concordia doesn’t do enough for non-binary students

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten grumpier. I know I may be playing into the societal norm of a crabby old grandma, but it’s true. Heck, I’m still under 20 years old, and I find myself criticizing everything around me. So, I figured, why not specialize my criticisms? After all, I am currently enrolled in an institution that has a plethora of things to criticize, so I figured I could start there.

So, where to begin? Lord knows I have spent many hours complaining about Concordia. I have issues with ensembles, the 50K price ticket, PEAK, and an array of other concepts. I started going through Emma Garton’s “Buttered Corn” section from the 2017 Concordian and saw that I wasn’t the only person who felt that they needed to speak up or write about the issues at hand. I also know we all love to critique Concordia, even though we love the school and continue to go here.

Before I begin, I want to clarify the message behind my opinion column. Under no circumstance do I want to attack, degrade, or undervalue any department or organization. I do not want to start a war with my words, so please understand that this is the perspective of one student. These are the words of one student: a confrontational and critical student. I would gladly appreciate a conversation, response letter or even a Twitter direct message to continue the conversation and my own personal understanding of these issues.

Let’s get started.

One of my biggest critiques of Concordia is its ignorance and inability to address and accommodate non-binary and gender non-conforming students. As an institution, we are making progress towards understanding and accommodating our non-binary students; however, we are not making enough progress.

I do want to recognize the actions Concordia has taken to accommodate its non-binary students. As of now, we do have gender neutral bathrooms in the dorm halls and a few academic buildings. We also have a designated floor(s) for our queer and non-binary students. But that is all, at least to my own knowledge. These actions are clearly not enough.

Concordia needs to build and establish safe, gender-neutral spaces on campus. We cannot exile  our non-binary students to one floor in one dorm hall. Especially the dorm hall farthest away from the hub of campus life. Non-binary floors should be integrated into our everyday lives and living spaces. These non-binary floors don’t need to be populated with only our non-binary and gender non-conforming friends. We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of gender inclusivity. We can also accommodate and validate our non-binary students by eliminating the binary language of our mission statement. There is no reason our mission statement needs to read “[sending into society] thoughtful and informed men and women…” I do think our students can graduate Concordia as thoughtful and informed members of society, but why do we need to maintain the outdated use of binary language? Why can’t our mission statement read “[sending into society] thoughtful and informed individuals…” This slight and simple change in wording can benefit so many of our current and incoming students. By directly wording our college’s mission statement with non-binary language, we open ourselves up to a multitude of gender diversity and inclusivity.

I do recognize that the process of making these institutional changes will be met with major backlash from certain donors and alumni. Yes, Concordia used to operate within a conservative way of thinking. The idea of having co-ed dorms used to be unthinkable. Women openly wearing pants or graduating in the STEM field used to be frowned upon. But we are a growing institution in an ever-changing time. We cannot simply stick to what is comfortable because we are afraid of the financial losses or alumni criticisms. There is going to come a day when Concordia has to choose between  tradition and societal ignorance or inclusivity and institutional adaptation. For our sake, I hope it’s the latter.

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