New Happenings

Hello Beautiful People, 

We just want to keep you guys updated on everything that is going on. As of now, we have a volunteer meeting scheduled for tonight, April 5, in Middlebush 11 at 8:30 p.m. If you’re looking to help us in the next few days, come on down. If you’re shy about being in the limelight, no worries. We have plenty of behind the scenes work we could give you, and you get a rockin’ green T-shirt! 

Also, Tuesday, April 7, 6-8 p.m. in Ellis Auditorium, we are going to have a Rock the Vote party. Any questions you have, bring them and meet the faces behind IncludeME MU. Thanks so much for your help, everyone. Leaders really do remaining standing, when everyone else sits down. Thanks for standing up.

Tomorrow’s the beginning, 

IncludeME MU

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It’s Official

Hey everyone!

It’s official. Our campaign has completely lifted off the launch pad. For the next 5 school days, you will see us in Speaker’s Circle, in your classrooms, and out and about Columbia. We’ve got buttons, flyers, and a message: gender inclusion.

We’re always busy working away at the social justice office on the second floor of Memorial Union North as well. If you have any questions, concerns or you’d like to help just stop by. We’ll answer your questions or surely find something for you to do. 

If anyone has any questions please email us at includememu@gmail.com. Follow our twitter at twitter.com/includememu, join our facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=55414789482) or find one of those REALLY cool people walking around in green IncludeMe T’s. 

We’ve had a few questions about voting, and I have the answers. We need a 3/5 vote for the referendum to past nest week. That means 60% of those who vote must vote YES. You WILL get an email about elections. Voting takes mere seconds. Just follow the link, log in with your pawprint and password, and vote YES, please. 

Stay dry,

IncludeMe MU

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Letter to Mr. Bowen…again

Marcus Bowen’s latest article: http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2009/3/17/nation-should-say-no-foca/

Mr. Bowen:

I want to preface this letter by first saying that I do apologize for the ignorant responses you may have received. To attack one’s family and or personal character is neither praiseworthy nor permissible.  However, in regards to those who oppose you, I would argue that you get what you give. When you offer ignorant opinions that you will surely receive in return.

I do thank you for opening up this dialog in the most appropriate public forum for the student body—The Maneater. Still, your opinions, while respected on my part are not accepted. You simply do not seem to understand anything about this issue, and I hope that before the vote you make some effort in properly educating yourself before deciding that such issues are radical and ridiculous.

Truthfully, this is an amendment that will protect every individual within the MU system, because we all have a gender identity, Mr. Bowen. However, if you insist on making this a transgender-focused issue, let me shine a little light on why anti-discrimination clauses that include gender identity and expression are needed.

Transgender youth are among the highest numbers of the homeless in the LGBT community. Countless transgender individuals have been denied health care, left to die on the streets and even in hospitals, or do not even seek proper health care for the aforementioned reasons. Many have been fired once their biological sex was exposed, and innumerable others are denied work from the very start. 

You see, Mr. Bowen, your ideology is not new. You are certainly no revolutionary in your opposition to rights or understanding of the LGBT community or its terms. You are correct in your assertion that we cannot make rules for everything, but human beings are not things. This is where you seem to have your disconnect, and I beseech you to understand and humanize the personal issues behind this clause before you dismiss it. If an anti-discrimination clause were proposed to protect “ignorant white male opinion,” I’d protect you, but the First Amendment has beat me to the punch. I would also like to point out that that same First Amendment allows freedom of expression, an expression that should be readily protected, Mr. Bowen.

I think you really need to understand some definitions. Tolerance and acceptance are in no way synonymous. In fact, they are prime examples of the very definition of dichotomy. You tolerate a crying child in Hy-Vee because you have to get this week’s shopping done. You tolerate an itchy throat and a bad cough until the NyQuil kicks in. You do not tolerate an individual’s identity or social status, especially when that individual is continually discriminated against and left behind in this so called “land of opportunity” we reside in.

I tolerate your opinion, no matter how ignorant, Mr. Bowen. However, I refuse to accept the ignorance of your position. Identity is not to be tolerated. Once we as a society stop looking at identity as a choice or a rebellious act against our heteronormative society, we can truly move into accepting individuals as they are and not how we as society want them to be.

I cannot and do not wish to speak to or chip away at your personal character. Nevertheless, opinions like yours only continue to perpetuate the student belief that our institution is too focused on making and preserving money rather than educating individuals like you on diversity and life outside of society’s white hierarchy. 

Being that you are quite the fan of the Republic Party, let me tell you one of the many reasons why Barack Obama is your leader for the next four years. One thing that President Obama understands that few political leaders grasp is that educational institutions serve as microcosms for the society we long to live in.

Unlike innumerable others, Obama sees how the many facets of our society and the identities of its individuals intersect. The young minds of MU and other higher institutions of learning move on to become the future leaders of our nation, and it’s not just the education that serves them well, but the cultural and social experiences therein. Policies of justice and equality must start somewhere, and if they can begin here then let them. If the government won’t protect everyone, then at least everyone can be safe here. As future leaders, our MU haven can and should mirror the greater nation we long to change for the better. Ha, we pay enough for it.

You are right about one thing, Mr. Bowen.

The university is not and should not be a “wonderful peaches and cream utopia,” nowhere is. Conversely, as a white male (whose life experiences I am not privy to) I feel little hesitation in saying that discrimination is not a strong pillar in your daily existence. And don’t throw that “affirmative action is out to get me” game this way. That’s a tune long off the Top 40’s list.

Again, I apologize for the malicious emails you received, and again I have made no judgment on your character. In fact, I’d even offer up an afternoon to have a friendly chat with you. As with any cause, we’re often  left to change one mind and one heart at a time.

 

Best regards,

Yantézia Patrick

Gamma Rho Lambda, President

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Response to “Thanks Maneater”

Include Me MU is open to public opinion regardless of position. The following was an anonymous comment left on our blog in response to our post “Thanks Maneater”. 

“The proposed amendment, I believe is not really necessary. I just do not understand how this will benefit everyone on campus. The minority is trying to get their voice heard and I support that, but to impose a new set of rules and regulations on everyone I think is if nothing else discriminating against all those that don’t identify themselves as a minority group. Maybe gender neutral bathrooms would make other people feel uncomfortable. Maybe names on class rosters are a useful tool for some. When you say “when it doesn’t matter if you come from the suburbs or the streets but a good education is available and accessible for everyone,” this is the most free country on the face of the Earth. Anyone with the drive and desire can overcome adversity and attain all those things of which you speak. Also as far as discrimination by the Columbia P.D. everyone who is young has experinced this. I have had flashights shoved in my face and I have even been put in handcuffs, but you have to remember that the police need to protect themselves, and would do the same thing regardless of who was behind the wheel. I think that this is more of a case of looking for discrimination. When you actively search for it you will find it. I am just not convinced that this is going to benefit me in any way, and quite frankly I think the implementation of some of these policies will be a waste of the University’s money, especially at a time when MU is cutting classes and faculty. That being said, I fully support equality for everyone, but if you think that this is a step towards “complete acceptance” I think that you are completely naive. Simply passing an amendment does not deal directly with the problem at hand and is a poor way to tackle the situation.”

AND, this was Include Me MU’s response…

Being that our very own Columbia Missourian has reported numerous times on the discrimination of the Columbia Police, I refuse to even engage in a dialog with you to the contrary. Your perspective clearly comes from a position of privilege, and again, you are clearly in the same position as The Maneater’s Mr. Bowen. Gender-neutral bathrooms are by no means an immediate request or a request at all for that matter. That could happen 5 to 10 years down the road for all we know. This amendment will, however, protect a student, faculty, or staff member from not being hired by a department or college because of their gender identity be it biological or not.

I am sorry if the idea of equality offends you. I am even more apologetic that you feel as if rules that do not allow you, your peers, faculty and staff to discriminate are unnecessary, but rules like this would not be necessary if minority groups were not discriminated against at all. Hello, Affirmative Action.

Are you saying the idea of having an MU policy that does not allow those around you to practice bigotry and discrimination is an imposition? I respect your opinion, but with all do respect, I do believe that you are the naive one. I by no means think that this amendment changes opinion, however, law and policy be it in the university or at local, state, or national level does call for justice and equality.

Truthfully, I don’t care if the Columbia P.D. shine lights in my car, but don’t tell me that an upper-middle class white male driving to his suburb in a BMW faces the same situation as I do in my Dodge. This country may be free, but people are oppressed in numerous ways. The civil right’s movement is alive and well, my friend. I beseech you to open your eyes.

I will not deny that as Americans we are all allotted privileges that other countries only dream of, however, I refuse to believe or accept that equality is currently accessible for everyone. It’s not, but to that I say, “whatever helps you sleep at night is fine by me.”

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Inside/Out

Hello everyone!

For starters, thanks again for stopping by and showing your support. We just wanted to drop in and give you all a small update. 

We’re meeting with individual school departments to ask them about amending their personal anti-discrimination policies to add gender identity and expression. So far, so good. The plan is to work from the inside out. from our core student body, to faculty/stafft, to administration. With our core allies in tact, we hope the board of curators will hear our request with more favor. 

Wanting to know how you can help? Right now, TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW! Gender identity and expression includes everyone on this campus. Spread the word. 

In other news, our buttons and shirts should be coming in soon, and as promised, you all will be the first to know when and where. They’ll probably go fast. However,  if you find that you can’t make it while we’re passing them out, I’m sure we could set some aside for those few devoted followers.

We’re also in the process of talking to 365gay.com and they say the story should come out a week before the vote. Obvs we’ll tweet it and post it here for you all to see. 

Any questions? Ask. Want to be more involved? Ask. We’d love to hear from you, and thank you for your outpouring of support. I wonder what Mr. Bowen will have to say today. 

We bid you adieu, 

Include Me MU

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The Many Definitions of Gender Identity

Hello, all. The Include Me MU team has officially kicked off its campaign. We’re currently meeting with individual academic departments to discuss our cause, and encourage them to add gender identity and expression to their individual anti-discrimination policies. For the record, most departments have adopted the policy of the MU system, which does not include gender identity and expression. However, they are allowed to amend their own policies within their respective departments.

The point of this blog is simply to address a reoccurring question, and also a fact that Mr. Bowen should personally become attuned to. Include Me Mu wants to be very straightforward with the student body in terms of our goals. Students, faculty, and staff often ask, “What does gender identity and expression include?” Essentially, they want to know if it’s just a transgender issue. The answer is no.

When choosing the words gender identity and expression, Include Me MU was looking toward the bigger picture. We all identify in some way. This amendment will ensure that no one will be discriminated against for their gender identity and/or expression whether it is or is not biological. If we want to look at smaller aspects of this proposed amendment, it will protect a female student who is discriminated against because she is a “tomboy” or a male student because he may be more effeminate than his male peers. Simply put, this amendment protects each and every MU student from being discriminated against because because of their gender. Heterosexual male: protected. Homosexual female: protected. FTM Transgender: Protected. Androgynous: Protected. And so on and so forth. Obviously, these are smaller examples of a greater agenda, but you can see that this amendment does, in fact, reach a portion of campus beyond those who identify as transgender.

We would also like to stress that the university and its media outlets are the perfect place to engage in such a forum. We encourage everyone to comment here, email us (includememu@gmail.com), or twitter us (www.twitter.com/includememu). You’re the student body and we want to know you. Include Me MU  does, in fact, include you. I hope the aforementioned has been made that all the more clear. 

Best, 

Include Me MU

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Mr. Ben Datema’s Letter to the Editor

Include Me MU is sooo happy with the progress we have made. We’re particularly impressed with the overwhelming amount of student support. We are currently accepting copies of your letters to the editor and/or a statement as to why you support gender inclusion at MU. 

MSA Sustainability Adviser Ben Datema sent this letter to The Maneater, and has agreed to share it with us as well. Thanks, Ben!

Mr. Bowen, 

After reading your column from March 9th, I felt compelled to respond.

I have never felt that ensuring the equal civil rights of all US citizens was an “immature and ridiculous” issue. Nor do I feel that, as you state in your third paragraph, striving to accommodate all students on campus is a “radical” concept. I feel that there is nothing wrong with working to improve our campus. Indeed, I feel compelled to do exactly that. 

We don’t – and shouldn’t – strive to make campus a “wonderful, peaches-and-cream utopia.” We should – and do – strive to make it a safe, accepting, and educational atmosphere where people desiring a better life and an improved mind can come to seek both.

I believe that your column belies your lack of insight on the matter. While I do not identify as transgender, and thus cannot fully understand the issues myself, I beseech you to further investigate the implications of identifying as a transgender individual in today’s society. The impacts are much more far-reaching, and at times much more dire, than your column supposes. If a person who identifies as transgender chooses a restroom that other people in the area feel does not match their expressed gender, it can result in insults, verbal threats, or even physical assaults. I fully support Asher Kolieboi and Tri-Co in their work on this important cause. 

You are right on one point: The words and deeds of student government do reflect upon us all. And, although they are not perfect, MSA’s efforts in addressing such a fundamental issue make me glad to claim them as my representative body on campus.

Respectfully,

Ben Datema

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