On Saturday, the ASUO Constitution Court decided that holding an incidental fee-funded event without gender-inclusive bathrooms is not a breach of the ASUO constitution.
ASUO Gender and Sexuality Diversity Advocate, Elle Mallon, filed a motion for clarification with the ASUO Constitution Court on Monday. In the motion she questioned whether Article 2.4 of the ASUO Constitution protects a transgender person’s right to equal access to incidental fee-funded events by “ensuring equitable accommodation,” in particular, ensuring that they are held at locations with gender-inclusive restrooms.
In the motion, Mallon mentioned the Constitution Court’s response to the grievance she filed during the 2015 ASUO elections. The brief said that the campaign We Are Oregon’s decision to hold its kick-off event in a building lacking gender-inclusive restrooms had caused trans people to have “second-class access” to the event. Initially, the ASUO Elections Board, primarily responsible for overseeing the elections proceedings, ruled that We Are Oregon had violated elections rules. Since then the Constitution Court has reversed the ruling and removed the sanctions.
Mallon stated that the Constitution Court, “did not have any findings on that question, and chose instead to rule on another rule,” she said that her motion sought clarification on whether or not unequal access to restrooms at an incidental fee-funded event is a violation of Article 2.4 of the ASUO Constitution. Campaign events like that of her past grievance, are not funded by the incidental fee.
Mallon’s suggested interpretation of Article 2.4 is that, “organizations are held accountable if they create a space that is hostile to participation for some or all of the students at the university. Similarly, those who hold events in spaces where there is inequitable bathroom access to trans students deny those students access and violate 2.4.”
Article 2.4 reads that “access to activities supported in whole or in part through mandatory student incidental fees shall not be denied for reasons of sex, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, handicap, political view, national origin or any other extraneous considerations.”
On Saturday, the ASUO Constitution Court responded to Mallon’s motion for clarification. The court acknowledged what it believes to be clear that Mallon had interpreted, “access to activities supported in whole or in part through mandatory student incidental fees shall not be denied for reasons of sex…” and connected access to gender-inclusive restrooms during specific events to such activities.
The court stated that because most areas of the University of Oregon do not have gender-inclusive bathrooms, interpreting the constitution that way would prohibit incidental fee-funded organizations from hosting many events.
The court wrote that Article 2.4 is to be interpreted as meaning that no person should be denied admittance to incidental fee-funded events on the basis of the person’s sex, race, religion, etc. But it doesn’t mean that incidental fee-funded organizations can’t host events in campus facilities that lack gender-inclusive bathrooms.
The ASUO Constitutional Court also noted that “what constitutes equitable access to incidental fee-funded organization events is a political question better suited for the political branches of the ASUO and the University Administration.”