The mission of any recreation center is to promote the health and wellness of the entire campus community. In order for this mission to be upheld, it needs to be a place where everyone feels welcome — no matter what age, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.
For years, Portland State University Campus Recreation has maintained inclusive practices. They work with the Queer Resource Center, Disability Resource Center and Women’s Resource Center, to develop policies and create programming that address the needs of all students.
While these practices are not new, over the past year they have made sure to put these policies in writing. “It has been the way we operate the entire time, we just never had it in writing,” said Jen Armbruster, the inclusive rec and fitness center coordinator at PSU. “It was just making that stand and making sure it was in writing just to have those conversations around the campus setting. If there are any questions or concerns, then the policy is there.”
According to Armbruster, the campus recreation policy outlines that they follow Portland State’s overall mission with gender identity being a protected class. “All of our facilities are open, which is where the locker rooms and restrooms fall into the policy,” she explained. “People can utilize the locker rooms and restrooms that they identify with. We also have universal changing rooms in our facilities for anyone that is not comfortable using the main locker room.”
In case anyone has any questions or concerns, Armbruster included her contact information in the policy. “I think putting it in writing helps our staff as well because if anyone comes to them with any questions, they can refer back to the policy.”
A few other initiatives developed at PSU to promote an inclusive environment include non-gender-based intramural leagues, trans-affirming workout times in a designated area of the recreation center, adaptive exercise programs and equipment and neutral language. “On all of our forms we do not use male or female,” said Armbruster. “It just asks for preferred gender. It is all fill in the blank verses checked boxes.”
When it comes to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students on your campus, Armbruster suggested looking at facilities, programming and staff training. “At the end of the day, a person is just a person,” she explained. “You treat everyone with respect. It is that platinum rule that you treat others the way they want to be treated, not the way you perceive them. That is our overall mission here at Campus Rec, whoever comes through our door, we want them to feel like they can find a community and a safe, welcoming environment to pursue a healthy lifestyle.”