Since the Students’ Association (SA) resolution urging the development of all-gender restrooms across the River Campus was passed on February 2, 2015, 16 restrooms have been converted to provide single-stall, all-gender accessibility. University Facilities and Services is also continuing to evaluate other single-use type restrooms that could be similarly converted in the coming months.
Current Junior Stephen Wegman, then an SA Senator and Take Five Scholar David Markakis brought the topic before SA after Meliora Weekend in 2014, with the goal of creating more inclusive campus environment where students of all gender identities have access to safe restrooms. Inspired by Laverne Cox, who was one of the speakers during Meliora Weekend, Wegman and Markakis collaborated to write a resolution for the implementation of all-gender restrooms on campus. With the support of various transgender representatives, the two approached SA and met with UR Facilities to discuss the feasibility of the project. Susan B. Anthony Center Coordinator of Outreach John Cullen also played a role in the formation of the LGBTQ Advocacy Committee, which provided leadership to enhance the LGBTQ climate at the University.
As of today, several single-use restrooms have been renovated, with more still on the way. Awareness for the initiative has grown, and the University’s support for the movement has strengthened. Markakis emphasized that the goal, however, is not to make bathrooms that are exclusively for transgender and non-binary people, but to make spaces that are safe and accommodating for everyone. Markakis noted that the initiative is not about preferential treatment, but instead a cause for social equality.
Some students have lauded the change. Junior Alex White shared hope that the administration and Facilities would continue to move forward with other buildings, especially restrooms with showers. As of now, White is proud of the progress that the initiative has made over the course of the year.
“I think that the willingness to change the signs is a powerful symbol of affirmation from the SA and the administration that we, as transgender students, exist on campus, and are worth making the change for,” White said.
The newly converted all-gender restrooms are located in academic buildings such as LeChase, Dewey and Hutchinson Hall. They can also be found in student residence halls throughout River Campus, including Gilbert and Hoeing, the University Health Service Building, Spurrier Hall, Todd Union and Wilson Commons.
“Everyone deserves to be safe in their personal identity,” Wegman said. “It’s all about safety, inclusion and Meliora.”
Ortego is a member of
the class of 2019.