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Editorial: Fund spaces for marginalized groups

It is time our university leaders ask themselves an important question: What does Central Michigan University stand for?

According to CMU’s statement of core values, campus leaders should aspire to the values of “integrity, respect, compassion, inclusiveness, social responsibility, excellence and innovation.”

A group of students believe in these core values, too. They’ve decided to show their commitment to fighting for people who feel marginalized as members of the campus community.

These students started a petition to get the university to build a gender center on campus.

They want funding from the university’s budget to build the center. They will use these funds to renovate and expand in the Bovee University Center, hire full-time staff and pay for speakers, educational workshops and supplies.

The purpose of this center’s creation, supporters say, would be to increase awareness and understanding of issues pertaining to gender inequalities.

These include the concepts of rape culture on campus, sexual harassment in the workplace and equal opportunities for advancement for women.

There is a large constituency of students that this center could serve.

The majority of the more than 20,000 on-campus students at CMU are women.

Some question why CMU should support this initiative. It brings to light an important topic that should be discussed. Because of federal gender equality law, CMU must remain compliant in the allocation of funds to gender-specific programs and services.

Title IX states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Supporters of spaces such as the proposed gender equity center hope to have representation not just at the student advocacy level, but also from a meaningful administrative one.

These underrepresented classmates of ours should be able to express themselves comfortably.

Every student has the right to feel listened to and accepted.

Our university’s leaders has a moral obligation has a responsibility to facilitate spaces on campus where students can go to share their ideas.

Support should incorporate both compliance and innovation.

We join our frustrated classmates in asking for something more tangible and valuable: Support centers designed to encourage acceptance in the campus community.

It is time to move these students up on CMU’s financial priority list.

Our university provides many important and appropriate student services used by thousands of students each day — the Charles V. Park Library and Student Activities Center are two prime examples.

While not as widely used, services narrowly tailored to the needs of specific groups of students are important to those who need them.

Similar to university-sponsored counseling services, areas on campus where students can recieve support with gender or social issues could save lives.

No one should have to struggle through their college experience. The implementation of these places would improve academic success — something CMU’s leaders talk about often.

We attend a primarily white university.

The implementation of these places would help diversity enrollment and paint our school in a more inclusive light.

Chippewas should be leading the conversation on equality and tolerance.

While it is unlikely that every student on CMU’s campus is going to use a gender or sexual preference-related space during their four or more years in Mount Pleasant, these places are vital to those who do need them.

You are going to share a classroom and residence hall with different kinds of people.

Each of them will have different experiences and beliefs.

CMU should consider how diverse its student population has become when making financial decisions.

Taking care of the people who need resources most is what this university says it stands for.

This is a chance for university leaders to prove they are committed to the message of community and togetherness they call “One CMU.”