This week, UC President Janet Napolitano adopted inclusive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender measures such as enabling students to indicate their preferred name on campus records and converting single-stall restrooms into gender-neutral facilities.
Napolitano’s greenlighting of the measures comes several months after she created an advisory council to assist her in, among other goals, parsing recommendations from a systemwide task force convened by her predecessor, Mark Yudof, in May of 2012. The task force aimed to address campus-climate concerns facing LGBT communities and compiled eight recommendations for Napolitano earlier this year.
In addition to converting existing single-stall restrooms, Napolitano also approved the incorporation of gender-inclusive restrooms in new UC buildings. Campus groups and a graduate student union have vigorously pushed for the policy in recent years.
About a year ago, United Auto Workers Local 2865 at UC Berkeley marched to then-Graduate Dean Andrew Szeri’s office to enlist his support of their labor demands, which included the creation of gender-inclusive restrooms.
“UC should be the gold standard where these issues are concerned,” Napolitano said in a statement. “UC has the opportunity to truly set the standard, and shift the way these issues are addressed nationally.”
For UC Berkeley student Tommy Statkiewicz, the policy of permitting preferred names in records has been a hard-fought battle. After he arrived on campus in the fall of 2012 as a transfer student and was told he could not list his preferred name on his student identification card, he resolved to ameliorate the hurdle he and other transgender and queer students faced on campus.
After conversations with former UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri and an official in the Office of the Registrar, Statkiewicz was able to list his preferred name on his Cal 1 Card and other campus records — one year after arriving on campus.
“This change also alleviated the potential dysphoria and triggers many transgender students experience when interacting with bSpace, e-mail, roll call, and other day-to-day aspects of the student life on campus,” he said in an email.
Still, preferred names on official transcripts and diplomas cannot be displayed without a legal name change, according to UC spokesperson Brooke Converse.
Statkiewicz cited costs and undocumented status as reasons students might not be able to legally change their names.
The permanent advisory council meets quarterly, with its next meeting scheduled for sometime this winter. At the council’s first meeting last week, Napolitano moved forward with two of the eight recommendations from the task force.
Other recommendations included convening a subcommittee on bisexual issues, dedicating funding for an LGBT counselor at each campus and implementing tax equalization for employees in domestic partnerships.
Additionally, the task force recommended establishing an LGBT resource center at UC Merced, which does not have one.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn, who identifies as queer, said the two recommendations adopted by Napolitano were easy fixes that did not require excessive funding.
“It’s just literally changing the sign,” Quinn said about creating gender-inclusive restrooms. “It’s not exactly revolutionary, but it’s still a great step so that no one will get called out for using a restroom.”