March 6, 2017 

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Last Wednesday, we gathered as students, staff and faculty for a discussion about the transgender and gender nonbinary community. Through that discussion, students made clear the ways in which our community is unaware of and disconnected from the needs of trans and nonbinary students, who spoke powerfully and honestly about their experiences and allowed me to recognize how important this conversation is to our community. Today’s Supreme Court decision to vacate a lower court’s ruling in favor of a trans student in Virginia reinforces the need to continue and expand the work of inclusion.

I want to let you know that The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, in collaboration with campus partners, is already taking additional actions to address your concerns. We are accelerating the designation of more gender inclusive restrooms, including single-occupancy facilities across campus academic and administrative buildings, and single-/multi-occupant facilities in upper-class residence halls. This process will be complete by Fall 2017. Additionally, this semester and next academic year, we will work with Human Resources to offer Trans 101 trainings for college employees. We commit to regular communication about the progress we make and will provide members of our campus community with the tools and information that will make Amherst a more inclusive place.

I invite the Amherst College community to engage in this work with us as we deepen our understanding and commitment to inclusive practices. It is complex and difficult work but it is essential. One of the learnings from last week’s gathering is that, while some may find the language of gender identity and expression to be unfamiliar and may be trepidatious about incorporating inclusive language into their everyday lives, it is important to note that not doing so can actively harm others more than a flubbed attempt. Again, my office will do all it can to provide our campus community with the educational resources we need. We are all learning.

Over the course of the coming days, weeks, and months, I ask that each of us—students, staff, and faculty—pause to think about some of the structural and cultural work that we can do to help develop a more trans and nonbinary inclusive campus. I hope you will join me in this important work as we commit to affirming and amplifying the voices of our trans and nonbinary community members.

 Norm Jones
Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer