Inclusive bathrooms on campus

As summer approaches, the need for inclusive bathrooms on campus increases.

School is out for children in the summer, but many adults may still choose to earn college credits during the summer. If a parent ends up having to bring their young child to campus, they will inevitably run into the age-old issue: where’s the bathroom? Younger children need to be supervised in the bathroom for their safety, but a dad may not be comfortable taking his daughter into the men’s room. One solution is inclusive bathrooms.

A gender-neutral bathroom is a single-stalled bathroom available for any person who may need it. Transgender activists often advocate for these inclusive bathrooms. The student body of UAA is diverse, and many students do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. Transitioning openly or not, using a gendered bathroom is unpleasant and sometimes dangerous for many transgender students. Inclusive bathrooms are also equipped for assisting handicapped students, or any individual who feels uncomfortable in a public bathroom.

Although there are three inclusive bathrooms in buildings near the Cuddy Quad, one of the highest traffic areas on campus, they are often difficult to locate.

Samantha Bruffet, an accounting major, believes that the construction of additional bathrooms on campus would be costly. She thinks the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“I don’t really have an opinion on gender-neutral bathrooms,” Bruffet said. “Budget cuts are risking professors’ jobs right now.”

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The Wendy Williamson Auditorium has two inclusive bathrooms. They are on either side of the stage behind two sets of doors. The bathrooms are fairly clean, single stalled and include a mirror. However, most students do not have class within the actual auditorium, and events often take place within it that close it off from the public.

The Student Health and Counseling Center also has an inclusive bathroom. However, as SHCC office manager Michele Bach explained, the restroom is usually reserved for urine samples.

“We don’t get the public student traffic from the hallways asking to use the bathroom,” Bach said. “Normally just our clients [use the bathroom].”

Those are the only inclusive bathrooms located near the Cuddy Quad. Amanda Hamlin is a barista contracted on campus in the engineering building. She was not aware that the campus had inclusive bathrooms in the first place, but has strong feelings about them.

“I think there should be more [inclusive bathrooms],” Hamlin said. “Parents and people who identify with that are going to feel more comfortable in them, which is great. They should feel safe, but there will probably be people who complain about it.”

The student body of UAA is extremely diverse, but one thing all students have in common is needing to use the bathroom. Raising awareness of the existence and location of inclusive bathrooms embraces student diversity.