Carnegie Mellon University

Ongoing Work to Promote All-Gender Equity at CMU

Recently, members of TINA, Carnegie Mellon’s Trans, Intersex, and Nonbinary Alliance, sent a petition to CMU administration to advocate for all trans, intersex, and nonbinary (TIN) people on campus.

Please read below for the content of their petition and dialogue with members of senior university leadership about our ongoing collaboration to more fully realize our commitment to supporting our TIN community. As President Jahanian affirmed, Carnegie Mellon is committed to creating and maintaining an environment where all members of our community feel welcome, included, supported and safe and where TIN voices are heard and respected.

From: Holly B Hippensteel
Date: Friday, September 4, 2020 at 12:21 PM
To: TINA
Cc: Farnam Jahanian, CMU Provost, Gina Casalengo, Shawn Blanton , Daryl Weinert
Subject: RE: Call to Action: All-Gender Equity at CMU

Dear Members of TINA,

Thank you for your reply. We hear your frustration and embrace that we have work to accomplish in order to more fully realize our commitment to supporting our TIN community.

We affirm our commitment to engage with TIN members of the community this month, once classes and our COVID-19 mitigation protocols have successfully launched. This meeting will focus on constructive dialogue related to next steps, the content of your petition, and to identify priorities for the year ahead. This is the meeting that President Jahanian referenced in his earlier reply, and which would include members of TINA, Gina Casalegno, Shawn Blanton, Holly Hippensteel, and Daryl Weinert. Gina’s office will be reaching out soon to schedule this conversation over Zoom.

Until we can meet, in response to your request for transparency, we wanted to take a moment to outline work that is underway and which we have committed to for the coming year. We are grateful to TINA members who have been essential in helping us move some of this work forward this summer. To address your request for a public response, we will be posting this reply and the thread that preceded it to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website on cmu.edu in the coming days. This also serves to enhance accountability and to promote respectful and purposeful partnership moving forward.

As of this summer, the following work has been launched:

  • Collaborative Process: In recognition of the partnership that this critical work requires, we adopted a collaborative agreement to define the relationship and identify shared goals between TINA and the LGBTQIA Advocacy Committee coordinated by the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion. These goals include centering TIN people and experiences in defining problems and designing solutions, including efforts to combat TINphobia and empower TIN voices. Subgroups from this advocacy committee began their work in earnest once this collaborative agreement was adopted. 
  • Housing: In late spring, we made the first round of updates to the Housing website, removing the outdated policy and making gender inclusive options to students much clearer.  We are grateful to Kai Huizenga for continuing to support and advance this work as part of Kai’s role as a Fifth Year Scholar. In addition, a subgroup of the LGBTQIA Advocacy Committee began meeting this summer to prioritize and propose solutions to the additional housing challenges that remain.
  • Identity Management for Students: A subgroup of the LGBTQIA Advocacy Committee began meeting this summer with Lisa Krieg, head of Enrollment Services, to ensure that our information systems recognize the criticality of students being able to control their information, including how their name and gender identity is both captured and shared. This work is focused on the protocols for storing and accessing information in our student enrollment systems, including legal name and sex assigned at birth while also expanding additional identity fields. As part of this work, we are exploring how this enrollment information feeds into other systems across the university, including how one’s legal name influences Andrew ID designation.
  • Student Education and Training: We launched new DEI content in both undergraduate and graduate orientation programs that is attentive to TIN identities and gender inclusivity. This content includes material in the new Everfi training module, “Diversity and Inclusion for College Students”; reflections shared by a panel of current students who are actively involved in social change movements including those advocating for TIN inclusion at CMU; information on effective communication and constructive dialogue; and an extensive set of resources for students to explore and learn more on their own. 

To build on this, we are committed to advancing the following this academic year.

  • Gender-Inclusive Restrooms: Earlier this summer, President Jahanian asked Daryl Weinert to convene an action-oriented committee to prioritize the availability of gender-inclusive restrooms on campus. Daryl will be convening the “All-Gender Restroom” subgroup as part of the Capital Planning and Development Committee, which has the full support of leadership, and a pathway to secure funds to make progress toward safe, gender-inclusive restrooms. Daryl will soon be reaching out to TINA seeking input on who from the TIN community will join this effort.
  • Building TIN-Centered Competencies for Key Staff: We recognize the need for greater training for key staff who engage most consistently with our students, and for that training to be conducted by TIN leaders. We are committed to advancing this goal this year. A team at the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion is partnering with local experts, such as The Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation and SisTers PGH, to conduct robust training for key staff.
  • Training and Education: Training and education programs offered through Tartan Allies remain available for faculty, staff and students through remote platforms. Multiple sessions were offered over the summer and are scheduled over the coming semester. The facilitation team is currently finalizing the curriculum for Tartan Allies 2 which will also roll out this fall.
  • Identity Management for Faculty/Staff: We are in conversations with Human Resources about developing a concrete plan to implement a more inclusive identity management process for faculty and staff through WorkDay and other platforms. 

Thank you your advocacy and partnership. We look forward to diving into the work and committing to collective action.

 Sincerely,

Shawn Blanton, Interim Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Holly Hippensteel, Associate Vice President for Community Standards and Diversity Initiatives in Student Affairs
Daryl Weinert, Chief of Staff, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, and COVID-19 Coordinator

From: TINA
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2020 2:50 PM
To: Farnam Jahanian 
Cc: CMU Provost; Gina Casalegno; Shawn Blanton; Holly B Hippensteel 
Subject: RE: Call to Action: All-Gender Equity at CMU

Dear President Jahanian, 

The contents and the manner in which you have communicated your response does not address any of the issues we raised, including the need for public accountability. We reaffirm our call forprompt public acknowledgement of these issues, along with actions the University will take to remedy them.  

In addition, your characterization of the university as ‘making great strides’ to address these issues shows a lack of respect and acknowledgement of the years TIN community members labored in good faith trying to connect with CMU’s administration only to be ignored. It is true the administration has shown some willingness to performatively engage, but there remains a lack of clear and meaningful actions to acknowledge campus is unsafe for TIN people and remedy the issues. While we’re sure your offer for a meeting is well meaning, you cannot continue to engage in this manner without public commitment to specific action and transparency in timeline, commitment, and how the needs of the community will be heard and honored. 

It is imperative that you address our demands, especially given the conditions experienced by our community during the ongoing pandemic, social unrest, and economic collapse. Lack of support and access to resources compound any marginalization our community members already experience. Many sections of our demands specifically highlight areas that are also impacted by mitigation efforts in reopening, such as housing and bathrooms. The disparities in health and well-being we identified in our demands will be exacerbated if they are not addressed in tandem with business continuity plans.

In the interests of transparency to the signers of the petition, especially given your lack of public response, we will share your most recent email with our group. Additionally, we will provide the signees with an update that includes the text of this email, and further steps TINA plans to take; this will be posted to our petition here.

We would not be having this conversation if CMU had done a better job responding to calls for change in the past, and we do not accept the current state of affairs as a reason to stall these efforts further. We simply ask that you do your part and show the CMU community and stakeholders - students, faculty, staff, alumni, prospective students, and donors - that all-gender equity matters. If your lack of public commitment to the CMU TIN community continues, we will pursue additional venues for publicizing this process and your lack of engagement with our needs, in order to increase accountability for meaningful action.

Sincerely,

TINA

 

From: Farnam Jahanian
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2020 1:35 PM
To: TINA
Cc: CMU Provost; Gina Casalegno; Shawn Blanton; Holly B Hippensteel
Subject: Re: Call to Action: All-Gender Equity at CMU

Dear Members of CMU’s Trans, Intersex, and Nonbinary Alliance (TINA),

Thank you for sharing this petition, outlining the areas the university can do better to support our transgender, intersex and non-binary community members. 

Let start by saying: you are valued and important members of the campus community and on behalf of the university’s leadership team, including Provost Garrett and Dean Casalegno, we are committed to creating and maintaining an environment where you feel welcome, included, supported and safe and where your voices are heard and respected. Gina has provided meaningful updates to me over the past several months about the work of TINA, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, and others across campus to put a process in place for meaningfully addressing many of your concerns and needs in a way that centers the needs of our TIN students, faculty, and staff. I also know that a number of important projects are already underway.

As we head into this unique and challenging academic year, I have asked Gina to provide regular updates to Jim Garrett and me so that we are kept apprised of the process and timeline for addressing these issues. As a first step, Gina will reach out soon to schedule a meeting in early September, once we are able to safely open the campus. That meeting would include her, members of TINA, Dr. Shawn Blanton, our new interim Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Dr. Holly Hippensteel, associate vice president for community standards and diversity initiatives in Student Affairs.  Together with Gina, Holly has been providing important leadership in partnering with TIN students to build on the work from our team in the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion and she will be continuing to shepherd this progress.

I want to again thank you for the time and passion you are putting into your advocacy, which is evident in this document. We will work with you to make important progress for all-gender equity at CMU.

Warm regards,
Farnam

Farnam Jahanian
President
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
Carnegie Mellon University

From: TINA
Date: Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 11:44 AM
To: Farnam Jahanian
Cc: (Numerous senior administrative and academic leaders)
Subject: Call to Action: All-Gender Equity at CMU

Dear President Jahanian and Senior Leadership, 

We are writing to you today on behalf of TINA, Carnegie Mellon’s Trans, Intersex, and Nonbinary Alliance, and in support of all trans, intersex, and nonbinary (TIN) people on campus. As you may be aware, Carnegie Mellon is not currently safe and accessible to TIN students. Dedicated members of our group, as well as other TIN people, have been working for years to change this, and while the university has taken steps in the right direction, we feel the actions to date have fallen short, and the solutions implemented have not always taken into account the voices of the TIN people directly affected. In order to achieve long-lasting change, systems must proactively provide for the needs of TIN individuals and comprehensively minimize the administrative violence directed against TIN folks at CMU.

TINA is excited and hopeful about the recent push to address these issues, but we feel the university can do better to tear down barriers for its TIN students, staff, and faculty. Created by our members and TIN community members, ‘Actionable Steps for All-Gender Equity at CMU’ details what actions the university must take to create a safer and more accessible campus for TIN people. Signed by 14 TIN individuals and 29 allies already, our document is now a petition being circulated throughout the university community. This document includes sections addressing: the process for making these changes, policies protecting TIN community members, restroom access, housing access, identity management, access to health resources, education and training, and support for TIN students. This document also constructs a space for future TIN individuals to continue to verbalize their needs in further areas within the administration; this is not an exhaustive list, but rather a coherent and unifying call to action. 

The homepage for diversity, equity, and inclusion states, 

“At CMU, we are intentional about eliminating barriers that have prevented full participation and increased access to resources and networks for underrepresented groups across our student, faculty and staff populations.” 

Here is a clear path to removing the barriers facing TIN community members on our campus every day. 

We are willing to work with the university to help clarify these solutions and their implementation, but we will no longer accept ad-hoc solutions and slow-moving progress in response to our suffering. The university must take decisive and transparent action in the manner outlined in the Process section of our document.

In addition, by orientation we demand a comprehensive, public response to each action item in our document. This will serve as a timeline of action the university will take going forward. If the university refuses to listen, reworks any timeline in our document, or delays these necessary actions, we demand an explanation. TIN community members at CMU deserve to be treated as equal, we deserve all-gender equity at CMU, and we are done waiting. 

Thank you, 
TINA