The office of Student Diversity and Inclusion issued a public statement on May 2 acknowledging harm caused to the transgender and non-binary student populations on campus in the Student Diversity Center.
The statement specifies that the harm was caused by the team’s staff. Francisco Salinas, director of Student Diversity and Inclusion, said the feedback came from town hall-style meetings that occurred after courses moved to an online format on March 13.
“We try to keep our ears open all the time,” Salinas said. “We have some regular avenues for feedback, like when we do presentations we ask for evaluations and we seek out direct response, but we always try to listen to folks that we have relationships with loudly, so we know whether or not we’re meeting the needs of our constituencies. We began to hear from various sources some feedback about a particular issue of transphobia in some of the things that were going on in our space.”
Upon hearing similar feedback from multiple individuals about the treatment of transgender and non-binary individuals in the Student Diversity Center, Salinas said the staff took action and met with the students who brought forward their concerns.
From those conversations, the team created a plan to address those concerns.
“We talked to them and we heard that they felt as though they had been subjected to things that really indicated a need for greater understanding on the part of our staff of the people, particularly in the trans and non-binary communities,” Salinas said. “So we had some internal meetings to devise a plan, connected with some of the folks who were giving the feedback and to talk to them about this plan. They were in agreement with the plan, and so we moved forward with it.”
This plan includes a revamp of the office’s existing hiring and training operations including accountability, creating a more proactive approach to recognizing harm and addressing it and becoming a more open resource to transgender and non-binary students on campus.
So far, the Student Diversity and Inclusion team has undergone three training sessions led by Jaysia Pecsek-Dunn, a Boise State graduate and former Inclusive Excellence Student Council member. According to Salinas, these trainings will be crucial to the continuous progress of the Student Diversity Center’s staff in developing a more inclusive space for transgender and non-binary students and staff.
“We want to be more effective with all of our populations. We want everybody to feel welcome, we want everybody to feel understood and we want everyone to feel supported when they come to the Student Diversity Center and when they receive any kind of interaction from the staff,” Salinas said. “What we always need to do is listen and when [a community member]has something that we can do to improve, then we need to take that seriously. So we are dedicated to continuing our improvement, and this was an area where we saw an opportunity to improve.”
Student Diversity and Inclusion consists of Multicultural Student Services, the MLK Living Legacy Committee and the First Forward Student Success Program for first-generation students. The full acknowledgment of harm can be found on the Student Diversity and Inclusion webpage.