Trustee comments concern leaders across GRCC campus

Trustee comments concern leaders across GRCC campus

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Trustee Stewart spoke on transgender bathroom policies at GRCC.

Comments regarding transgender bathroom policies from a trustee member at the latest Grand Rapids Community College board meeting have sparked frustration across campus.

Trustee Richard Stewart addressed the college’s Transgender Equal Opportunity Policy, which allows students, staff and faculty to use the bathroom that resembles the gender they identify with.

“Whether we want it or not, we and others are really being bullied in the name of Title IX into adopting these guidelines and in so doing are being forced to open the door to a host of alarming dangers to the very females that Title IX was created to protect,” Stewart said during the board comments at the end of the meeting, Monday.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration mandated that schools protect the civil rights of transgender students. GRCC adopted this policy in August of 2015.

Stewart said the policy “concerns our values and treatment of people” at GRCC.

“The guidelines force females to share locker rooms, shower rooms and restrooms with males,” Stewart said. “A man simply says, ‘Well, I feel like a woman today’ and enters a women’s restroom or locker room, even if young girls or women are already there, giving that predator complete access to his victims. Ironically, with the approval and encouragement of the federal government.”

Stewart told the board it is their duty to be the community’s voice, who he claims is unsatisfied with this policy.

GRCC student and Student Alliance External Affairs Director Maleny Crespo was at the meeting Monday, and she said she had to leave the room after Stewart’s comments.

“Immediately my heart started racing fast,” Crespo said. “I was filled with a lot of sadness about how he was talking about transgender people as predators.”

Crespo has organized a Facebook event inviting students, faculty and staff on campus to attend the next board meeting and participate in public comment.

“We’re trying to get as many people as we can to come over and just show solidarity for the trans policies that are set on campus,” Crespo said. “Everybody is welcome to that.”

StandOut Adviser Simon Kittok said he and StandOut President Beau VanSolkema will be making a statement at the board meeting as well.

“Comments from Trustee Stewart create a less safe environment for our trans students,” Kittock said. “It just shows a great deal of misinformation about this community because if you look at statistics, trans folks have never been the predators in these scenarios. They are much more likely to be the ones attacked, harassed, assaulted in these spaces.”

“I encourage Stewart to actually meet some trans people and listen to their stories and hear some of the struggles that they’ve had because it’s pretty obvious that Stewart’s misinformed about this community.”

VanSolkema, a transexual student himself, agreed.

“It’s a basic human right that we should all have,” VanSolkema said.

GRCC President Steven Ender emailed a statement to The Collegiate today in response to the trustee’s comments.

“GRCC strives to ensure that all of our students and employees have a safe and inclusive learning environment,” Ender said in the email. “Statements of individual Board members reflect their personal views and not those of the institution.”

VanSolkema said students should care about these issues and take a stand.

“We’re all in college for a reason, to get an education,” VanSolkema said. “Start paying attention … especially when it affects who we are and our safety and our core values. As a basic human right, we should be able to go into the bathroom that we feel like we identify with.”

Kimberly DeVries is the Title IX Coordinator at GRCC. She said the policy aligns with the college’s inclusive mission, and that comments of one individual do not necessarily reflect those values.

“The college has taken very deliberate and very careful steps to implement the policies that we think align with our values,” DeVries said.

DeVries encouraged concerned students to talk to her, talk to StandOut members or visit the counseling center on campus.

7 COMMENTS

  1. When is his term up? It can’t come soon enough in my opinion.

    GRCC should be ashamed that this activist trustee, who is woefully ignorant of what it means to be transgender, is seeking to lobby for from his position.

    Shame on us for allowing him to stay this long. Vote him out and his hateful policies.

  2. Though transgender should have bathrooms or be able to use one that actually fits their daily lifestyle it is not the responsibility of the college, the public, or even restaurants to provide extra accommodations to everyone that choose to be trans-gendered or transsexual. If you want to live as a girl use the girl restroom, if you want to live as a boy use the boys restroom. It is that simple. Christians are entitled to their opinion under the 1st Amendment just as are the atheists and those that choose alternative lifestyles. but it seems only when Christians or others voice their opinion they are viciously attacked. ummmm And while trans-gendered have not attacked the same or other sex in the bathroom, trustee Stewart has a point that students in general could pick and choose each day if they felt like being a girl or guy and which bathroom to use. The people crying would have the same attitude as the trustee if the other person in the restroom was their sister or daughter and the guy wasn’t a true trans-gendered but just someone saying they were. So where do we draw the line? accommodating and being 1/2 way understanding is one thing but remodeling bathrooms (spending thousands) for your choice of lifestyle is ridiculous. Whats next ? Are the trans-gendered going to want their own bathroom at the movie and grocery store? oh they already do. Maybe we should give them free hotel rooms next. If it was their money and their 13 year old daughter and a guy in the girls restroom it would be different. Then they would take trustee Stewart ‘s side.

  3. Wow. Those are some pretty disappointing and unsettling comments, Richard Stewart. You might wanna sign up for a Intro to Gender Studies class and challenge your misconceptions on gender identity.

  4. lol obviously the attack coming against Mr. Stewart are from those transgendered that are trying to start a war and obviously didn’t read the whole article and took comments out of context and 5 students doesn’t count as the student population of over 18,000. Wow should be said to those that make comments just to jump on the attack bandwagon for their own agenda.

  5. I am disappointed that the topic of transgender has been plunged into the toilet. I hope that the transgender community does not pride themselves for using opposite restrooms as a major success. The bathroom is inanimate, lets focus on a national “people” campaign to educate the Nation. Now, what some have failed to understand is that a government has made a national decision without providing “tools” to accomplished a change.

  6. $37,000 for dividers at the ford Fieldhouse so transgendered can use their own dividers? Each student pays a $100 maintenance fee each semester. 15,000 * 100 =1.5 million dollars but it is hard enough for facilities to keep up with maintenance so lets spend more money. What if the people complaining had to pay for stuff they wanted? No where in the constitution does it say you need your own bathroom or shower cause you don’t want to use the womens or mens bathroom. Pick one and use it. Guys don’t really care if women use their bathroom. As for transgendered guys using the womesn bathroom, if you are dressed like a women that day, honestly 99% of the women wont even notice they are too busy with their iphone, makeup and hair. And the women bathroom all stalls have doors, its not like there is a urinal in the womens bathroom. This is ridiculous but is $37,000 for dividers, but the smokers cant even get a trash can with a ash tray on top on each side of the bostwick commons.

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