JCC Board Discusses Gender Inclusivity; Leadership Academy

Inclusivity was a big topic at a recent Jamestown Community College Board of Trustees meeting.

Skyler Gore, Jamestown Community College student trustee, reported to the board that the Student Senate had recently introduced a Gender Inclusivity Proposal and would like to move forward with drafting a policy on the topic which would then be submitted to the administration.

Gore said the proposal actually came up last spring.

“But we want to reformat how we would like to see change as students rather than simply just placing a paper in front of you and saying, ‘This is what we demand, please make it happen,'” he said. “We would like to go as far as jumping in the deep and drafting a policy for the institution, speaking to faculty and staff and fellow students about what possible procedures and guidelines might be relevant under those policies.”

Gore said the Student Senate would form a draft policy under relevant guidance.

Wally Huckno, board chair, asked if any specific information had been garnered as to the student body’s response to such a proposal.

“On the surface it appears to be something that is very important,” Huckno said. “I think almost anybody with a moderate amount of intelligence believes that gender should be treated equally. I wondered what kind of feedback have you gotten from the student body themselves as you delve into the specifics that ‘This is what could happen and are you in favor of it if it does happen?”

Gore said the process will take a lot of dialogue going forward, possibly including student forums.

“Of course there are some cultural and social ramifications associated with gender inclusivity,” he said. “Part of it is sometimes it’s misunderstood, or it could be particular political or religious opinions the students may have about various gender identifications. We’re pretty certain there would be some backlash from some student populations. I have no gauge of faculty and staff.”

Gore said some of the issues that could fall under the possible policy might cause an issue for some students. For example, he said if the changing of facilities such as restrooms is considered, there is a format which includes community restrooms which would have individual stalls with community sinks.

“Some students might not be comfortable with that, and we need to make sure we listen to them and gain their input,” Gore said. “It’s a touch and go.”

Huckno said he only brought up the question due to a situation he had become aware of at another college.

“I talked to a young man who is at a college in another state, and he said they had this gender inclusivity there,” he said. “I said ‘Well, that’s nice,’ and he said, ‘Well, I thought it was pretty nice, but I’m not so sure now.’ I asked ‘Why?’ and he said, “Well, we all go into the same door, but we’re all showering together in separate stalls and I was really offended by that … I didn’t realize they were going to go that far.'”

Huckno said he hadn’t known about such arrangements at other educational institutions, and said it would be important to have conversations such as that as the process moves forward.

“Just so we’re all going into this situation with our eyes open,” Huckno said. “It’ll be a fun time to be on the board, and at least we’ll have something to spark our attention.”

President Cory Duckworth also added a few words of his own regarding the proposal.

“These are definitely interesting times here on our campus as well as campuses across the country,” Duckworth said. “There’s some new challenges out there that we’re having to deal with, and I just wanted everyone to know we’ve taken substantial steps in those directions already. We already have all-inclusive, all-gender restrooms available so those that are in that area where it is uncertain what they’re supposed to do, they have options available to them. I don’t think we’ve cleared the hurdle by any means, but we have begun that process in many significant ways.”

He said one of the most important things is to keep the dialogue going.

In other news, Kirk Young, enrollment management and institutional advancement vice president, told the board the college is currently working on setting up a JCC Leadership Academy in conjunction with area high schools. The academy will use JCC student ambassadors to offer leadership workshops for student council students. Young said he would like to put on a leadership conference and possibly a summer leadership retreat.

He said since the high schools have found out about the program, he has received quite a few emails and believes the program will be successful.