Propelling itself into the second decade of the 21st century, America has become even more of a beacon of change than it has ever been. President Obama continued his historic political run by becoming the first African American to be elected and re-elected as president.
Marijuana and gun laws faced multiple upheavals, and the former was even legalized in a handful of U.S. states. In sports, professional athletes Jason Collins and Michael Sam became the first openly gay participants in the four major U.S. sports (football, basketball, baseball and hockey). Collins recently became the first gay active player in the NBA and the latter entering the NFL Draft in April. As the country continues to change, university campuses like our own will continue to shift.
The University of Nevada, Reno has a student population that is almost representative of the state and the city of Reno. According to enrollment data as of spring 2013, there are 8,604 male students and 9,623 female students at the university. Forbes.com states that the university’s demographic information for the top three most represented races are Caucasians at nearly 67.8 percent, Hispanic/Latinos at 12.4 percent and Asian/ Pacific Islander at 6.3 percent.
Although this information is useful, there is sparse data and information on LBGT students at the school. These students are becoming more known and accepted at the university and should be accommodated on campus just like any other knowledgeseeking undergraduate or graduate. While the information on these students is limited, they are a part of our campus like any other minority, and to restrict them would be a disservice to anyone who has fought for change in their lives.
UNR is in no way a hostile environment, but being able to immediately identify and cater to these students will help the university attract a wider array of different viewpoints and perspectives, which is what it needs to stay competitive in a rankings race with schools all across the globe.
The university has already started going in the right direction by showing the documentary “Trans” on campus and introducing gender-neutral “family” bathrooms, but the latter might be tiptoeing around the elephant in the room a little bit.
A good number of universities have already implemented gender-neutral bathrooms and residence hall floors. Although this is a step in the right direction, what the university should absolutely not do is start to segregate these students from the rest of the undergraduate or graduate populations in their living spaces.
The introduction of LBGT residence halls would be a good way to make students feel safe, but the university should start working towards inclusion and not exclusion. The ever-present construction on campus should also be used as an opportunity to include more inclusive services for students.
The new Pennington Achievement Center will be more accommodating to students with not only gender differences, but also various religious philosophies. According to current ASUN vice president Elliott Malin there will be a kosher kitchen and an inter-faith prayer room inside of the achievement center that will be built over the space that Getchell Library once occupied. Moving forward, it does not matter what your background is, but how you want to better yourself and the people around you.
Like past students at any college institution, this is a time to leave a legacy. Students at the university should be a united front for change since this is what they will remember as their time comes and goes and when they inevitably will leave the school on the hill. The University of Nevada, Reno should further embrace student diversity because this is the direction of progress.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.