This week brought a new example of Trinity’s commendable dedication to making the campus as inclusive and accommodating an environment as possible.
The announcement that students will soon be given the option to use gender neutral pronouns in official College records was rightly described by Trinity’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Tony McMahon, as “ahead of the curve” – no such option is available in any other third-level institution in the country.
On RTÉ news, students described a move that will have a positive impact on their experience of College life, after a prescient review of Trinity’s gender recognition policy.
But it’s hardly a surprise that Trinity is out in front on this issue – the College has long been ahead of the pack in terms of its gender recognition policies.
Some of Trinity’s attempts to be inclusive have been more successful than others (the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms was controversial, but perhaps a more sensible idea than the widely derided change of freshman to fresh). But either way, the last few years have been laced with evidence that Trinity is well attuned to the needs of its LGBT community.
Students, of course, have put in place the conditions for a progressive campus broadly accepting of people irrespective of their gender or sexuality. But College officers, to their credit, have responded to the climate with substantive policy changes that go a long way towards creating a more tolerant Trinity from the top down.
Trinity, like most of Ireland’s third-level institutes, is run mostly by middle-aged white men. But its advancements show that it’s possible to create a culture of tolerance and acceptance, and for this culture to be reflected at policy level.
The level of awareness and pro-activity Trinity has shown is something other colleges and universities would do well to pay attention to. The days when “diversity” and “inclusion” were merely buzzwords for colleges to use in their promotional materials are drawing to a close.
Expect to see the example Trinity has set being emulated widely, as other institutions grasp the new reality.