‘Gender Fair’ to increase gender awareness on campus

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Brianna MacLean

Gender has become a topic of discussion in recent years. How many genders are there? Is there more than just male or female? This year’s “Gender Fair” on campus is opening up this conversation by having all restrooms on the first floor of Jamrich be gender neutral for one hour at this year’s “Gender Fair.”

The Multicultural Education and Resource Center (MERC) will be hosting the “Gender Fair” for the second year in a row from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20 in the Jamrich first-floor lobbies. The fair is in conjunction with Global Citizen Week, a collaborative series put on by several NMU student organizations and community members, which will be from March 19 to 23.

The main objective of the “Gender Fair” is to have participants be involved actively and critically in an environment promoting gender related topics. The event will help promote activism and awareness to the campus and community of Marquette. As part of this spirit, from 2 to 3 p.m. during the fair, any person of any gender or gender identity will be allowed to use the men or women’s restrooms. Other restrooms in the building will maintain their designation as men or women’s, said Madeline Wiles, a student employee at the MERC.

Wiles, a junior communications major and double minor in gender and sexuality studies, created the fair last year and was able to bring it back this semester to help educate NMU’s students on the discussion of gender and gender identity.

“People should come to this event to be more aware of the world around them. This fair encourages education by students for students, bringing up conversations of diversity, inequalities, different cultures and more,” Wiles said.

Rayvn Rooney, a sophomore social work major, will serve as the raffle promotor and make sure the event runs smoothly. Rooney noted that this event allows the organizations on campus and the community to come together as one and stand up and teach others gender related topics.

“The Gender Fair is fairly new, however, extremely prevalent on our campus. This event allows our campus to be more effective, accepting and diverse,” Rooney said.

The event will also include a raffle that consists of around $500 worth of gift cards and merchandise items donated by local businesses. Some of the businesses include Smoothie King, The Delft Bistro, Starbucks, Togos and Border Grill. There will also be two prizes given away after the event to those who filled out a raffle ticket.