Gender-based university awards will be phased out to promote gender inclusivity.
The Letzeiser Medal goes to a male and female student each year. The award is the highest GPA award for seniors.
One of those students to receive the award this academic year didn’t identify as the gender they will receive the award as.
The deans from Petree College of Arts and Sciences brought the issue to the dean’s council, where they unanimously voted to get rid of the gender stipulation, said Dr. Helen Gaudin, acting associate dean of Petree College of Arts and Sciences.
“If the Letzeiser Medals are strictly based on GPA, we suggested ‘can we not just compare GPA to GPA,’” she said. “We don’t have to compare boys to boys and girls to girls.
“I haven’t heard any arguments for keeping it, other than ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it,’ which I don’t consider a very compelling argument.”
The gender stipulation could cause discomfort and/or pain to students who are transgender, Gaudin said. She said people should be sensitive that all of our actions can impact other people in painful ways.
Each college typically chooses a top senior male and female in different ways. For Petree, it’s a combination of GPA, other activities and a vote of the faculty, Gaudin said.
“What we know in 2016 is that gender isn’t always as simple as they might’ve thought it was in 1950. People’s legal gender doesn’t always correspond with the gender they identify with,” she said. “In my opinion, they never needed to be gender-based awards.
Dr. Amy Ayres, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, supervises the Campus Leadership Awards, which recently were awarded to students.
Student affairs developed a Greek Member of the Year award rather than a Greek “Woman” or “Man” of the Year award to be more inclusive, she said.
“This was an intentional effort to drive our recognition away from being tied to any form of gender identity,” Ayres said.
Zack Travers, business administration junior, was one of the recipients of the award. He said the title was a move in the right direction.
“It has always been more important to me that someone is a good person before being a good man or woman. OCU continues to be on the frontlines as far as inclusion goes,” Travers said.
This is the last year awards will be given according to the rules in place for Petree and the Letzeiser Medal. In the future, the gender aspect will be abolished.
“Surely we’re all smart enough to deal with things in a good, professional and caring way, but that’s why we said, with these awards, it’s a no-brainer. It’s really simple, just stop it,” Gaudin said.