Editorial: MU ought to promote its own gender inclusivity efforts more

Despite all the progress, gender neutrality doesn't seem to be on MU's radar.

As an institution, MU is making significant progress toward gender inclusivity. However, it seems like MU’s public relations staff is either ignorant or hesitant to highlight this progress. Consequently, if you just looked at MU’s online presence, you’d have no idea any such progress has taken place.

MU, like most American universities, spends a significant amount of time and money creating the most appealing websites and social media pages possible. Because these efforts are so influential in defining the public image of the university, the content posted should spotlight the best that MU has to offer — and to a large extent, it does. But MU’s social media presence manages to entirely shy away from mentioning gender-neutrality.

For example, the gender-neutral clothing consignment store, ThreadBare, opened its doors on the first floor of the Student Center on Aug. 26. Shortly afterward, Truman’s Closet announced it would no longer include any gender-specific labels on its clothing options. Initiatives like these are instrumental in creating a more inclusive campus environment at MU and are also a major step in diminishing the perceived distinctions between genders.

Meanwhile, the few posts made by MU on social media regarding ThreadBare completely omit its gender-neutral theme and only refer to the store in the context of its role in the Student Union’s Entrepreneurial Program.

From @Mizzou Instagram: “Kyle Gunby and Zach Bine are on hand for the store's Grand Opening today at the Student Center! It's part of the Student Unions Entrepreneurial Program, designed to give students a place to test business ideas and gain experience.”

This is only one example of the progress made toward gender-neutrality across campus that has gone unmentioned by the MU marketing team. In an effort to not stigmatize gender-nonconforming students by forcing them to declare a gender to live in the residence halls, MU now offers gender-neutral housing options for students — another massive step in the right direction. Gender-neutral bathrooms have also become more commonplace on campus, with MU's newest residence hall, Gateway Hall, including unisex bathrooms on all of its floors. The Missouri Students Association also released a full map detailing every gender-neutral bathroom on campus. All of these advancements have only received minimal mention on MU’s social media.

It’s odd that while MU students are making strides toward inclusivity, they don’t seem to be getting public recognition from the MU higher-ups. While the progress made towards inclusivity is great, MU needs to spend more time and effort promoting it instead of skirting around or omitting gender-neutrality altogether.

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