Last week’s SGA re-cap: Transgender restrooms on campus, and the new “healing spaces” for students struggling

On Nov.17, the Student Government Association (SGA) held a university-wide meeting which  included reports from special guests addressing the campus’s hottest issues, including housing, transgender restrooms, and services the university includes for students who are mentally struggling.

Director of Marketing and Administrative Support of the Auxiliary and Support Services Chris Connelly educated the SGA members on changes in parking for Turner Field and the bus services of the university like the Bus Buzz. Bus Buzz gives students the chance to provide feedback. Connelly also spoke on the university’s new parking app which shows students how many spaces are available in a given parking deck.

Connelly said the department is awaiting on an addition of 200 parking spaces in the T-deck, which the students will most likely stumble upon in the spring semester.

“I was told it’s coming soon, and I imagine the parking and transportation services are getting all of their ducks in a row in having it for the spring semester,” he said.

Dr. Holloman, Dean of Student Affairs also addressed students’ concerns with Turner Field and the division of the university’s money towards the sale.

“It’s time now to have some more transparency in terms of what is going on to address some of the concerns students might have. For example, parking. The Board of Regents approved [the] Turner Field [purchase on] Nov. 9 and the money was paid from the [Georgia State] Foundation. The [Georgia State] Foundation is buying all 68 acres and selling 38 acres to Georgia State University,” he said.

With a bill currently running through SGA, Dr.Holloman spoke on the school’s audit for transgender bathrooms on campus saying that while there are already transgender restrooms on campus, there will be additions and improvements coming soon.

“This year, our human resources department came in and did an audit on the transgender restrooms to ensure that we were in compliance with federal regulations. We took the list down to review and we found out some of the restrooms were in places that were “creepy”. Some of the restrooms were in parking decks and some of the restrooms didn’t work and so we are meeting on Friday to review that list [of restrooms],” he said.

Holloman also mentioned that new buildings will have restrooms for students who are transgender and unisex.

“All new additional buildings will have a restroom that is designated for unisex and transgender students,” Holloman said.

However, he did say there are some challenges.

“Some of the old buildings that we have, when they originally designed those buildings they made them so that there’s these big banks of restrooms that weren’t as gender- friendly as we would like for them to have been. So it’s very hard to convert those because by code every building has to have a restroom and a certain number of stalls. But they have been committed to ensuring that they include restrooms that are unisex or transgender,” he said.

Holloman said that he is also taking the necessary steps to  improve the gender- inclusive housing applications for transgender students in order for the application and the waiver to be combined.  

But there’s another department undergoing drastic changes according to Holloman.

“In response to the tragic event that we had about a month ago on our campus, we had a student commit suicide and the counseling center has really been on that immensely. The multi-cultural center created spaces that were healing spaces for students to be able to talk,” he said. “The student’s parents were identified, all of his classmates were identified. He was a very engaged student in the Honor’s College and so we spent some substantial time in the Honor’s College.”

Holloman urged students who are suffering emotionally to seek help by coming to the Dean’s office and ensured them that services will be provided to them based on their issues.

“At any time you feel that you don’t have anyone to talk to, your concerns, your anxiety if you can’t do anything else just come to me, come to the Dean’s office,” he said. “This has probably impacted my life professionally and personally more than I will ever know. Because I just feel that there was just one student out there that I “missed.” So just come talk to the Dean’s office and we ensure you that we will help connect you to whatever services you need,” he said.