Articles found in bathrooms violate campus policy

Editor’s Note: This version of the story eliminates an opinionated term in the headline.

News stories about sexual violence in bathrooms were discovered by a student in a women’s bathroom in the La-Z-Boy Center.

On Wednesday, March 13 before noon, an MCCC student entered the women’s bathroom and discovered the documents placed on the counter. A photo was taken and the Agora was notified.

The morning following the incident, an Agora reporter contacted President Kojo Quartey about the papers and asked how it was being addressed.

“We were alerted to the statement found in the Meyer Theater this morning,” Quartey said in an email. “The statements have been removed. These signs are inappropriate and have no place here at MCCC. We are currently discussing additional actions.”

Signs were also found in the C and S buildings.

Materials were found in the La-Z-Boy Center women’s restroom on March 13 at 11:45 a.m.

Quartey said all signs posted on campus must be approved by the vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Success, Scott Behrens. 

Although the school has footage of individuals going into the restrooms, Quartey said there are no cameras in the restrooms, making it difficult to determine exactly who posted the signs. He said security has done some checking and has not made any determination.

Quartey said these signs were not approved and are in violation of policy, and the investigation continues to ensure proper action is taken.

“Our restrooms on campus are safe,” he said. “We have had no incidents of violence in any of our restrooms. We also have several single-use restrooms on campus for anyone’s convenience.”

Quartey met with Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) co-advisers Jenna Bazzell and Melissa Grey on Thursday, but the meeting was not about the specific message.

“ … I did not have all the facts about the signs,” Quartey said. “We discussed other issues. The administration will be responding to the GSA Letter to the Board/Administration. We are also working with GSA to provide more education and training about LGBTQ+ issues.” 

Quartey said the administration is also reviewing the college’s posted signage language to ensure safety for all on campus. Anyone posting the signs is in violation of MCCC policy for posting signs that could incite violence or cause students to feel unsafe on campus.

Quartey also explained how the college would handle the matter if the person involved in the incident was identified.

“If the person is identified, they could face consequences up to and including expulsion/termination,” he said.

Quartey said there is no place for transphobia on campus and it should not be tolerated anywhere in our nation. 

“That is why there are laws against such discriminatory behaviors,” he said. “I want to make it clear that the college supports any individual who wishes to use the gendered restroom that best suits their gender identity, which is consistent with state law and MCCC policies.

“Everyone who comes on our campus needs to feel that sense of safety and belonging. My overriding concern is that all on our campus feel a sense of safety and security. No incidents that endanger anyone will be tolerated.”

GSA responds

The GSA has not met officially with the administration since the papers were found, according to GSA advisers. 

We have found the transphobic propaganda and sent it to college leaders,” Bazzell said in an email on March 19. “We are not clear about how the college is responding. The college not making a clear and transparent response to the incidents is concerning and dangerous.” 

Bazzell said the college must send messages that are clear and transparent about who is welcome on campus. The college must also enforce anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies.

At the Feb. 26 board meeting, GSA submitted a written appeal to the Board of Trustees to hold the college accountable to obey its own policies. The following four points were emphasized in their letter.

  1. GSA implores the MCCC President and Board of Trustees to require the College post clear, simple signs on all gender-signed restroom doors that outline appropriate behavior and describe the penalties for inappropriate behavior. GSA is calling for these signs to affirm gender diversity and design the signs to be permanent, encased in plastic. GSA requests to be consulted for review and approval of such signs.
  1. GSA insists the BoT and President of MCCC publish a new statement that makes clear the College’s support for any individual to use the gendered restroom best suiting their gender identity, which is consistent with state law and MCCC policies.
  1. GSA urges the BoT to require the President to communicate to all members of campus about the consequences of bullying, discrimination, and harassment, including harassing individuals in the restrooms with prior review and approval by GSA.
  1. GSA implores the MCCC BoT to mandate all higher level administrators (Directors, Vice Presidents, and President) to obtain continuous education on an annual basis supporting their knowledge and awareness of student diversity and equity including sexual orientation and gender diversity.

Upon receipt of the GSA’s open letter at the board meeting, the advisers said they expected expedient responses from the college.

“GSA is clear and unwavering in their support and commitment in their mission to make a strong, supportive community, to increase awareness and acceptance, as well as to provide resources regarding LGBTQ+ issues and culture,” Bazzell said.

“GSA aims to strengthen the links between the college and the local community with regards to LGBTQ issues. Our intent is to encourage support through positive exposure and increased visibility of LGBTQ residents of Monroe County.”

Bazzell said the recent events documented within multiple articles published in the Agora along with video coverage of the Feb. 26 Board of Trustees meeting affirms the college’s lack of commitment and support for GSA, its mission and intent.

The next Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 25, located in the La-Z-Boy Center, Room  Z-257/258.