Diversity Key Issue for Outgoing Student Senator

As the hustle and bustle of the MSU campus begins anew, Troy Duker, a senior in the religious studies program, is spearheading new diversity awareness legislation in the MSU student senate.

Duker has become a strong advocate for diversity in the Montana University System.

“Not only is ethnic diversity important, but so is diversity for students of all orientations, beliefs and preferences,” Duker said in reference to his most recent project, which is scheduled to be presented to the student senate on Sept. 6.

The project involves developing a resolution to amend the Montana State Board of Regents (BOR) Policy 703, which is the governing policy on sexual assault and discrimination.

“Transgender students were not protected by the university’s anti-discrimination policy or that of the Board of Regents,” Duker said, “and the BOR policy does not even recognize sexual orientation as a grounds of discrimination.”

The resolution under question is written to ensure equality exists for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Duker’s inspiration for this bill comes not only from his major in religious studies as well as his mentor, Lynda Sexson, who urged him to get involved, but also from students who have approached him throughout the past year.

As Duker explained, last fall a student came to the senate concerned about MSU’s lack of family restrooms, which are able to accommodate transgender students. The senate then created an ad-hoc committee to take up the issue.

“She returned to us this summer because little action took place, so I decided to research campus and BOR policy regarding discrimination,” Duker said.

Duker has also been working with senators from the University of Montana in order to make his project statewide. Once approved by MSU’s and UM’s student governments, the resolution will be submitted to the BOR in hopes that it will be passed by the end of the semester.

When he is not busy working for the MSU community, Duker enjoys spending time with friends and fellow Bobcats at the Pour House.

“I guess you could say I am a microbrew fanatic,” he said with a laugh.

As he looks forward to graduation, Duker anticipates enjoying many great local brews and talking to students from all sides of campus, bringing up issues that don’t always get recognized.

In addition to being a senator, Duker is also a Diversity Advisory Committee member, employee of the Montana Center for International Leaders and President of MSU Students for Obama. These groups allow Duker to help more students get involved so they can continue his work after he graduates. For now, he’ll continue to be an advocate for diversity — and good beer — in Bozeman.