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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MSA proposes legislation for non-discrimination policy

Hickox has been talking with other UM System schools to make this a system-wide change.

Feb. 26, 2014

Corrected 02/26/2014 at 8:16 p.m. A previous edition of this article stated that the resolution would be voted upon on March 12. The resolution was voted upon on Feb. 26 and passed unanimously.

MSA Sen. Luke Blackburn and his running mate, MSA Sen. Connor Hickox, both juniors, lost the Missouri Students Association presidential election in the fall, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing what they thought was right for MU.

On Feb. 18, Resolution 53-23 was introduced to the MSA cabinet. The resolution would be in favor of adding gender identity and expression to MU’s non-discrimination policy, something that has already been done at 730 other colleges, Social Justice Committee chairman Payton Head said.

“Some people may see that as a little thing, just a couple of words,” resolution author Hickox said. “But we thought that the university should do whatever they can to make sure all students in the MU community feel safe and welcome.”

Blackburn and Hickox had worked on this issue as part of their campaign.

“We decided that we still wanted to do what we could to make it happen, even without the … title of MSA president and vice president,” Hickox said.

Hickox and a handful of other students took it upon themselves to make sure this change would still happen.

“I think that (this issue) is very relevant to campus because I think it is just another step moving forward to making us a more inclusive campus for all identities,” Head said. “We look at the LGBTQ community, but the one thing that gets forgotten all the time is the ‘T’. … When we talk about transgender, it gets a little bit more complex.”

Several years ago, a student-led initiative brought about a revision to the MU non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation, Hickox said in an email.

This legislation did not include protection for transgender individuals, however, as it did not include gender identity and expression.

For the resolution to pass, the activists on this issue decided to visit each of MU’s academic colleges to speak with their respective student councils with the hopes of getting them interested in passing an internal revision to their own non-discrimination policies that would include sexual orientation.

Hickox said he did not think of resolving this issue with MSA legislation until now.

After communication with other UM System schools and advisers, he decided a resolution would be best.

“Additionally, it looks like we’re gaining some traction at the system level, at potentially revising the non-discrimination policy across the entire UM System,” Hickox said.

Hickox has been in communication with UM-Kansa City, which has already passed a resolution. In addition to this, the university also revised its student organization handbook to require all student organizations to include gender identity and expression in the non-discrimination clause of their groups’ constitution, Hickox said.

At the other two schools in the UM System, Missouri University of Science and Technology and UM-St. Louis, resolutions have already been proposed as well. Both will be voted on in the upcoming weeks.

After its first reading, the Social Justice Committee tabled Hickox’s resolution so Hickox could have it reviewed for proper language. The committee sent the resolution to LGBTQ Resource Center coordinator Struby Struble, who referred the resolution to Heather Eastman-Mueller at the MU Student Health Center.

Hickox also recruited the help of both Head and Operations Committee chairman Ben Bolin to look over the legislation.

“If (MSA) does pass this resolution as well as the other two campuses, then all four schools will be showing support … that could lead to the Board of Curators adding this issue of the non-discrimination policy to the agenda for the next meeting, which is in April,” Hickox said.

The resolution will be voted on Feb. 26.

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