The front lawn of Grace Pearson Scholarship Hall | photo by Abdullah Al-Awhad/Open Kansan.
Editor’s Note: Upon the request of Grace Pearson residents, an image showing anti-trans messages on bathroom signs was removed due to the personalized nature of the message.
The University of Kansas Student Housing is adding gender-inclusive housing to the scholarship halls next fall, according to an email from Ben Grapperhaus, the scholarship halls complex director.
GIH will be implemented on the first floor of Grace Pearson Scholarship Hall, according to Grapperhaus’s email.
“We hope to continue to open more areas of Gender Inclusive Assignments in the future to help this one grow,” Grapperhaus said in the email.
Atlas Oberon Ruiz, diversity, equity and inclusion chair for Grace Pearson, said the fight for GIH in the scholarship halls has been ongoing since spring 2021.
Last fall, Grace Pearson launched a campaign led by Vice President Meridia Bryant and Ruiz to advocate for inclusivity in their hall and at the scholarship halls at large, according to the University Daily Kansan. However, students were faced with anti-trans sentiment in the form of vandalism of bathroom signs and LGBTQ+ supportive posters.
“The gender-inclusive housing is just part of a long line of making [Grace Pearson] more accessible to queer people have people of diverse bodies,” Ruiz said.
KU Housing’s irresponsive attitude to residents’ needs
At times, KU Housing’s bureaucracy slowed down residents’ inclusivity efforts at Grace Pearson, Ruiz said.
“We were working towards having gender-inclusive bathrooms,” Ruiz said. “[This] has been pushed harder and harder and got some pushback because of bureaucracy.”
Grace Pearson’s first floor is already gender-inclusive, Ruiz said. However, KU Housing officially declared it as GIH only a few days ago.
Grace Pearson does not have an elevator, which has made Grace Pearson not ADA accessible.
“Getting ADA accessible is a very long and complicated process,” Ruiz said. “There’d have to be some serious remodeling to make that happen.”