By Graciano Clause
A group of York LGBT and disabled students raised concerns before the College Senate. The concerns were addressed at the first meeting between the the administration and the senate on Sept. 29.
President Marcia V. Keizs presided over the meeting in room 2M04 and directed Associate Dean of Student Development Vincent Banrey to update the student and faculty senators about progress being made to remedy a variety of complaints.
Among them were numerous deficiencies on campus pertaining to disabled students like the lack of automatic door openers at entrances, braille buttons and sound devices in the elevators and gender neutral bathrooms for LGBT students.
“There were a list from about 22 different items to address concerns of students with disabilities as well as staff and faculty of the college,” Banrey said. The seven most pressing issues were discussed.
Terrence Wolf, 25, Geology major is the president of the Straight and Gay Alliance club. “My concern with the bathrooms is that a lot of transgendered people have road blocks in the way to use the bathrooms,” said Wolf.
Wolf mentioned that many transgendered people suffer from bladder and urinary tract infections. The reasons are most don’t use public bathrooms which leads to medical problems due to holding out on the bathrooms. Gabriel Boulbou, an 18-year-old Nursing major, added to the issue. “Having gender inclusive bathrooms will allow transgendered students to not be afraid to apply to schools like York if we get them,” Goulbou said. Goulbou added that a comfortable environment is a value transgendered people would consider.
Banrey reported that John Jay and Hunter college two CUNY schools have gender neutral bathrooms already established on their campuses, and York officials are discussing funding strategies with CUNY in an effort to have them installed at York.
Junior Ahmed Labulo, 19, a History and Black Studies major, chimed in as well. “If someone has a problem with the bathrooms they don’t have to use them, but it will be beneficial to the community that needs it most,” Labulo said.
Wolf believes there are many benefits to having the gender inclusive bathrooms. “I realize in the short term it may make non-transgendered students a little uncomfortable, but this is a matter of having the bathrooms for the community that needs it,” Wolf said.
LGBT students also raised concerns about the CUNY policy that specifies that students who desire to change their name have to give in legal documentation such as a marriage license or court papers showing that the name change was legally processed. Banrey said that policy is under review.
As for the numerous complaints from disabled students, Banrey read from a list of proposed solutions including their estimated costs.
The installation of braille buttons inside elevators right now is in the pre-procurement stage. The total cost for braille plate are $27,095. Sound inside elevators to announce floors are still in discussion, but the cost for the cab operating panel to achieve audio is $220,000.
Dedicated space for Access-A-Ride pick-up and drop-off in front of the Academic Core Building along Guy R. Brewer Blvd., and 160th street is still under discussion. Insufficient lighting in public spaces has not started yet, quiet study spaces are still being installed in the library. As for school’s lack of automatic doors, CUNY central is still working on identifying funding.
Banrey also said college officials are planning to install electronic toilet flushers in all campus bathrooms to address the perennial problem of unsanitary conditions. The initial cost was estimated at approximately $87,000 for material.