Editorial board

Grand Valley State University, a liberal arts university, is notorious for having a conservative attitude. Some of this is due to the location of the university, some of it is due to the lack of diversity in GVSU’s student population. Whatever the reason, it’s about time that the campus begins to embrace the liberal part of its name.

On campus we have seen the development of gender inclusive housing and bathrooms, as well as the ability for students to change GVSU IDs and email accounts to parallel their preferred names and genders, so it is a natural progression that this inclusivity should be transferred to online service, particularly with myBanner. All students at GVSU utilize myBanner, and it’s long past time for the system to include the preferred gender identities of the students that use it.

Currently, the university is working to make changes to the Ellucian Co. system so that students can choose whichever pronoun suits what they identify with. Many students have names they prefer to be called rather than their legal names. This is a step in the right direction for people to be included and supported on campus.

At GVSU, we are lucky to have such a strong advocacy group as the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center that promotes inclusivity in all aspects. Through the educational and informational programs they host, addressing situations such as the gender binary is made a priority, which is something that doesn’t happen at a lot of other institutions. The gender binary is the assumption that gender only exists as male or female, with nothing else in between. Frankly, this dichotomy is untrue. There are many other, equally valid forms of gender identification, and the GVSU community needs to understand that gender is a spectrum. The Lanthorn applauds those pushing for the changes to myBanner for creating a more inclusive system for students to utilize.

However, since the university is putting such a strong and needed focus on inclusivity, efforts to create an open environment for everyone should be done in a timely matter. If an idea is going to make someone’s college experience easier and more positive, it should be put into action. It’s already taken two years to get this proposal in motion.

Pressure for the university to adapt to identification preferences has come in several forms. When Laverne Cox from “Orange is the New Black” fame came to speak at GVSU during the 2013-14, she suggested that the university install software on their computers to allow students to enter their preferred name rather than their legal name when registering for classes.

“For a lot of trans folks, especially for those that are transitioning and maybe haven’t changed their names yet, preferred name policies are really great,” Cox said. “You can register with your preferred name so your professors can see your preferred name, and a name that is not consistent with your identity won’t be called out in class. It makes the pedagogical situation a lot safer for trans students. That’s an important policy.”

We have departments aimed solely at promoting inclusivity and diversity at GVSU. We have the strong resources and university backing for change. Now, we just need to put it into action.