By Elise Parrill
Note: Leah Wilkinson also contributed to this story.
Big changes have come to campus this semester. Last November, Bellarmine’s Student Government Association (SGA) passed a bill that changed the signs on 31 gender-neutral bathrooms.
After last semester’s protest about a bulletin board and other various injustices that received few consequences, SGA member and student Kelze’ Riley proposed the bill to make Bellarmine more welcoming to all students.
“I felt like the signage was one of many ways SGA could help Bellarmine in its efforts to become more inclusive,” Riley said.
The bill provided $4,000 to the signage and labor to change the signs on all gender-neutral bathrooms.
“We [SGA] decided to pay for the full amount because we decided it’s something that students wanted to do,” said SGA President Trey Grevious. “It’s one of our missions, this year particularly: to be more inclusive.”
SGA initially said they hoped to have the signs installed during winter break or early in the spring semester, but the process took a little longer than expected, with the final signs installed just before spring break.
“The $4,000 goes to the specific signs we have to order for handicap bathrooms. They have to be in compliance with Kentucky laws,” Grevious said last semester.
Many students supported this change and said they believe it is an important step to become more inclusive and conscious of all students; they want everyone to feel included and protected at Bellarmine.
“I think that there are a lot of students here that will benefit from this, especially the non-binary students like myself,” student Sydney Cooper said.
Student Sam Russell said he thinks this small change will empower many.
“I personally think it will add to the inclusivity of the [LGBTQ] students. I’m excited that we’re moving to a more enlightened view of self-identification,” he said.
While these two students seem to agree this bill is a positive decision, some students also think that the money could be used to benefit students in the LBGTQ+ community in more impactful ways.
“Well, I do think the sign change is an important step especially because of the controversial issues,” Russell said. “But I think the money could be used to improve a united campus culture.”
Regardless, the bill will help the university move one step closer to being more welcoming to all of its students.
“I am proud of the assembly for passing this bill and I hope this change in signage makes students feel like Bellarmine is becoming more and more inclusive,” Grevious said.
Grevious said he hopes student government can continue to aid students in all ways necessary.
Cooper agreed: “Having inclusive spaces for trans people means having inclusive spaces for all people.”
If students have any ideas about future movements to make Bellarmine more inclusive, they can contact their class representative individually or email SGA at email@example.com.
A list of the gender-neutral bathrooms can be found at: www.bellarmine.edu/studentaffairs/gender-inclusive-restrooms/.