The Daily Northwestern

Letter to the Editor: 30 LGBTQ+ students endorse Sky + Em

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We, as members of the LGBTQ+ community at Northwestern University — as activists, as advocates and as allies — are voting for Sky Patterson and Emily Ash for student body president and vice president. We fully believe that these candidates are the best choice for LGBTQ+ students at NU.

Sky and Em are the only candidates that have plans to implement policies essential to the LGBTQ+ community. Woven throughout their platform is a promise that the needs of queer and trans students will always be a priority throughout their term. They are making a promise to advocate for gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-open housing. Sky and Em have concrete plans to expand visibility about resources and physical spaces that are accessible to LGBTQ+ students as well as advocate for the expansion of these spaces and resources. We are confident that they are the best people to listen to the needs of our community and advocate for those needs with the administration. It is unclear based on the other ticket’s platform whether they would make any attempt to work with us, listen to our ideas or advocate for us at all.

Sky has worked toward improving equity for trans and non-binary students as vice president of academics. She developed the first-ever faculty pronoun guide with the help of feedback from trans and non-binary students who are most saliently affected. While her position does not specifically call for work that promotes inclusivity or accessibility, she has made sure to be intentional about developing policies that support marginalized students. For Sky, intersectionality is not just a buzzword used to get attention — it is a purposeful guiding principle. She crafted policies acknowledging the fact that LGBTQ+ students are also impacted by unaffordable textbooks, inaccessible buildings, biased professors and the protest policy.

Our community is blatantly absent from the paragraphs of text that make up Justine Kim’s and Austin Gardner’s platform. The only mention of the LGBTQ+ community at all is with regards to accessibility of identity-based mental health counselors. While we appreciate this policy, it does little to tangibly improve the everyday experiences of queer students on this campus. Sky and Em’s campaign also calls for expansion of mental health resources to marginalized communities, but goes above and beyond to tangibly improve the lives of queer students. During the Tuesday debate, Justine claimed to have a second platform, but we have no doubts that the queer community will continue to be an afterthought.

This is especially disappointing given the fact that Austin formerly acted as Vice President of Accessibility and Inclusion for Associated Student Government. In his work on all-gender bathrooms, he did not reach out to many of the queer student leaders who have been working on this project for years without ASG’s resources or support. If he would have reached out, he would have had access to an archive of the locations of all gender neutral bathrooms on campus. How do we know that Justine and Austin will fight for increased gender-open housing as the housing master plan is carried out? Will they advocate for larger physical spaces devoted strictly to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community? Will they work to ensure that our professors respect our gender identity and use our pronouns?

The choice we make on Election Day is a simple yet critical one. At even a surface level of analysis, it is clear that one ticket will show up for the LGBTQ+ community and work with us, and one will not. The work has been done and is being done by members of our community; we just need candidates who will listen to and stand by us. We urge members of the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to consider the implications of a platform with only minimal mention of our needs and make the right choice on Election Day.

Signed,

Emily Zaniker
Kai Kuo
Sophia Etling
Spencer Colton
Jayleen James
Rachel Hawley
Alec Balasko
Kelsey Phalen
Lillian Aff
Colin Clayton
Maggie Olson
Ché Anderson Justice
Eish Sumra
Paige Leskin
Jenna Levine
Thomas Ritz
and 14 other LGBTQ+ students (who do not wish to be named for their own safety and privacy)

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