Gender inclusivity important to UI

By Imogen Lindsley

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Alex Nelson, intern at the Women’s Resource Center and graduate student in social work, as Alexandria. Additionally, the article referred to Nelson using female pronouns and should have used gender neutral pronouns.

The article incorrectly stated that the campus climate survey will be conducted on gender inclusiveness and will be done by the spring semester. It should have stated the survey will focus on sexual violence and will be conducted by the end of the academic year. Additionally, the article should not have stated that ICARE is a part of the We Care website, rather it’s featured on the site.

The original headline of the article incorrectly stated the University was to make sexual assault resources more gender inclusive. Sexual assault resources were made gender inclusive in fall 2013. The article incorrectly stated Nelson recommended students register for ICARE, the University’s bystander education program, because of the high levels of sexual assault that occur on college campuses. Rather it should have stated that Nelson recommend students register for the class because students may not actually witness sexual assault happening, but may see other forms of sexually disrespectful behavior on campus and ICARE teaches students how to intervene in ways that make students feel comfortable.

The Daily Illini regrets the errors.


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As universities across the nation attempt to address the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, one University student is attempting to make sexual assault resources and services more gender inclusive.

Alex Nelson, intern at the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) and graduate student in social work, has been involved with the First Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education program (FYCARE) all five years they have attended the University.

Nelson played a role in changing the script of sexual assault classes to remove gendered pronouns, and according to Molly McLay, assistant director of the WRC, was “instrumental in helping UIUC programs to become more inclusive and safe for LGBTQ students.”

“We took gender out of the script. We only use gender inclusive pronouns, so — ‘they,’ ‘them’ and ‘theirs’. We never assume survivors uses ‘she’ or ‘her’ pronouns or (are) a woman, and we never assume that the perpetrator uses ‘he,’ ‘him’ ‘his’’,” Nelson said. “We make it very, very clear that sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of gender and can be perpetrated by anyone, regardless of gender.”

The changes to the University workshops, implemented in 2013, come at a time when one in four transgender undergraduate students reported they are survivors of sexual assault, according to a survey conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU).

The survey defined sexual assault in two categories.

“One type focused on non-consensual sexual contact involving two behaviors: sexual penetration and sexual touching or kissing. Those two behaviors are what typically make up the criminal definition of sexual assault,” said David Cantor, a University doctoral alumni, who was part of the study’s research team.

“Other tactics which are commonly problematic on campuses according to student codes are related to the use of non-physical force (coercion) like a threat to give you bad grades or offer a reward of [a] good grade,” Cantor said.

Those identifying as transgender, gender-queer, questioning or not listed (TGQN) were about three times more likely than cisgender individuals to report the coercion tactic as the cause of sexual assault, the survey reports. to the survey, the most reports of being sexually harassed or stalked and for being survivors of intimate partner violence, non-consensual sexual contact, penetration by force and incapacitation came from TGQN undergraduates. being more at risk for sexual assault, results showed that TGQN pupils felt that campus officials would take their cases less seriously than those of hetrosexual and cisgender individuals, Cantor said.

“The AAU plan on doing another survey where all the universities are going to be doing a lot more analysis of their data — looking at the time the events are occurring, the characteristics of the perpetrators and having other researchers using this data,” Cantor said.

Nelson said the University is currently in the process of getting approval for a Campus Climate Survey about sexual violence, which will be conducted by the end of the academic year.

“(The survey) will collect a lot of different information pertaining to students’ gender identities and things they have seen on campus related to climate, with regard to sexual violence but also experiences that they have seen or helped a friend with, or just general feelings and attitudes related to sexual violence. This is a really important topic,” said Nelson.

Nelson recommended students register for the bystander education program, i-Care because students may not actually witness a sexual assault happening, but may see other forms of sxually disrespectful behavior on campus. iCare teaches students how to intervene in ways that make students feel comfortable. i-Care is featured on University’s new sexual assault website,, which debuted in July.

(LINK TO:“(The website) walks you through what to do to report sexual misconduct, where you can go to talk to people —which we have lots of different kinds of resources, both confidential and non-confidential — how to support people, classes that you can take and how to get involved in advocacy and activism,” Nelson said.

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