A gender neutral bathroom will be open from Friday, June 1 until the end of finals week. It will replace the women’s bathroom on the fifth floor of Wilson Library. // Photo by Mathew Roland
By Alyssa Bruce
What was once a women’s restroom on the fifth floor of Wilson Library is now a gender-neutral facility until the end of finals week.
The new accommodation for gender-neutral restrooms began on Friday, June 1, after students expressed concern over the hours which the current accessible gender-neutral restrooms in the library operate.
Mark Greenberg, dean of libraries, said the gender-neutral restrooms on the sixth floor, the only permanent gender-neutral option in the entire library, were only open for a portion of the library’s hours of operation.
Currently, a new gender-neutral restroom, which will also be compliant with all American with Disabilities Act rules and regulations, is under construction on the first floor of Wilson Library. Construction has taken longer than expected, and the delay led to a need for a temporary solution in the meantime, Greenberg said.
“This is the beginning, not the end, of a commitment to try addressing the needs of the community,” he said. “I am going to be working closely and advocating strongly that we try to expand gender-neutral restrooms wherever possible.”
Wilson Library was originally built in 1928. During construction of the new restroom, the crew found multiple repairs that were not originally in the remodel plan. Recently, the crew discovered the floor of the new restroom is uneven, which caused the latest delay, Greenberg said.
Mal Warren, an archeology major, said people who are non-binary have an equal need for accessible restrooms and that using men’s or women’s restrooms is not a fair expectation from the university.
“Often we are uncomfortable in the restroom, or at worse, we can be assaulted or somehow discriminated against offensively,” they said. “That is not something we want to face when we use the restroom.”
Upon hearing about the new accommodations in the library, Warren said they were concerned because they were not made aware of the new option.
They said there is no point in inclusive spaces if people do not know about them.
Greenberg said there were signs in the library addressing the new gender-inclusive options.
Amina Lee, a human services major and advocate for gender-neutral restrooms across campus, said what the library is doing is a good start for a solution to an ongoing problem.
“Most classes get about five minutes for a bathroom break and that is barely enough time to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water, even if you are using a bathroom right down the hall,” Lee said.
In multiple buildings across campus there are no gender-neutral restrooms, resulting in students having to travel outside of their class buildings, taking time away from their education, Lee said.
“Gender-neutral bathrooms are really important because they are kind of a statement that the school is seeing trans students and aware of trans students and making space for them,” Lee said.
A date for which the new gender-neutral restroom in Wilson Library will be open to the public has not been decided yet, Greenberg said.