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THE TIMES-DELPHIC The weekly student newspaper of Drake University

Vol. 135 | No. 15 | Wed. Feb. 17, 2016 timesdelphic.com

CAMPUS NEWS

Embracing Gender Inclusivity Drake joins other universities by adding an all -gender restroom to campus. The addition comes as part of a plan to make Drake as inclusive as possible to all students. It is just one of the efforts that multiple student groups are making to help campus become more welcoming for the student body.

Gender-inclusive bathrooms open up inclusivity conversation Jess Lynk News Editor jessica.lynk@drake.edu @jessmlynk

The door swings open to reveal a single toilet, sink and paper towel holder. It looks like an ordinary bathroom, but this one is different. Outside the bathroom is a sign that says “All Gender Restroom.” This bathroom is a significant milestone in Drake University

history because it is the first gender-inclusive bathroom of many to come. “If you are a trans student, or even if you aren’t, you are going to have a place to use the restroom and that seems like a pretty fundamental thing,” said Tony Tyler, director for student engagement equity and inclusion. This new restroom effort stemmed from the campus climate survey, released back in February of 2015, in order to make all students feel welcome. “Whenever you have

restrooms that are gendered, transgender students can at times feel not safe to use the restrooms there,” Tyler said. “What that results in is that their learning and their living experiences are significantly hindered if they are not able to use the restroom.” Efforts from multiple student groups, facilities and the Office of Student Inclusion, Involvement and Leadership all helped make this possible. The bathroom was created by taking off the handicapped stall of the women’s bathroom

in Olmsted and putting up a wall. This made room for a handicapped accessible, genderinclusive bathroom. This is one of the efforts that Tyler and the office of Student Involvement and Leadership made after deciding last semester to rebrand the Office of Student Involvement following the results of the student climate survey. “As we looked at the data from that (the survey) and as we listened to the feedback that students were giving us throughout the semester, it

became quickly evident that there needed to be response to what the students were saying they wanted and that they needed,” Tyler said. This feedback led the office to be renamed the Student Inclusion Involvement and Leadership office and led to the creation of the Director for Student Engagement Equity and Inclusion position that Tyler holds now.

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Father of Trayvon Martin furthers conversation of race Jenny DeVries Staff Writer jennifer.devries@drake.edu

On the evening on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanfod, Florida=, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin journeyed outside in the rain to a convenience store that, unbeknownst to Martin, had experienced several robberies recently. He was shot upon leaving the store by neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, who had called the police minutes prior on account of Martin’s ‘suspicious behavior.’ The story became national news almost overnight. U.S. media followed the ensuing trial, which saw Zimmerman acquitted, and launched discussion across the country about race-relations. The Coalition of Black Students (CBS) hosted Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin, who spoke to students, staff and community members on Saturday, Feb. 13 in Sheslow Auditorium. “We’re still fighting to be treated as equals,” Martin said. “Our young men and women are treated as suspicious because of the clothes they wear, because of the way they talk, the way they walk. Trayvon was basically killed for looking suspicious, and we need to change that narrative.”

Martin addressed three major changes that the U.S. specifically must change in order to improve race relations: society’s perceptions of African-American youth, media news reports and the legal system. After the court’s decision on July 13, 2013, Martin realized he needed to be part of a positive change in the narrative of how black youth are treated, not only within society but within the justice system as well. The injustice that Martin is fighting against is a large reason why Anthony Pawnell, vice president of CBS, said the organization wanted Martin as the figure to speak to Drake students. “As we look (at) many of the protests that occurred in the last five years, Trayvon Martin’s death was the catalyst for most of them,” Pawnell said. “We thought it was only right to bring someone that pushes our thinking as we engage in social justice work.” But changing society’s perceptions about AfricanAmericans, as Martin points out, is an arduous process, one that has lasted for hundreds of years and continues to this day. “I look back to 1863, when people point to Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves and they think that’s where the story ends,” Martin said. “But now, more than 100 years later, after the Emancipation Proclamation, you

still have people being treated as second-class citizens.” But Martin argues it isn’t just society that must change; it is also the media. He points out that there are topics not approached, proverbial “elephants in the room,” that need to be addressed if productive discussions about race relations are to continue. “When you look at CNN or Fox, the issues that make the news are topics like sex trafficking or global poverty and there are two categories that America doesn’t want to talk about: prejudice and racism,” Martin said. “As AfricanAmericans, we’ve never been afraid to talk about those issues because it’s a reality in our lives.” That reality Martin points out is one that harms not just forward progress for race interactions, but particularly the families directly affected by media reports, with his family being no exception. When asked about the most frustrating part of Martin’s experience after his son’s death, he explained it was that the media exploited the tragedy. “The media focusing on a dead 17-year-old, that they didn’t know, the media tried to ruin his character,” Martin said. “It tore me apart. As a parent, you know your child. That was the hardest for me.”

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TRACY MARTIN spoke in Shelsow Auditorium last Saturday. Martin is the father of Trayvon Martin, a teen who was killed by a neighborhood watchman in 2012. Martin came to campus to speak to students, staff and community members about his experience and how he is trying to make change in the wake of tragedy. PHOTO BY SAM FATHALLAH | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

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