Through an investigation by The Leader, it was discovered that all-gender restrooms are not easily accessible to all students.
The EC campus map states that there are all-gender restrooms available at the Accelerator ArtSpace, Cureton Hall, Dinkmeyer Hall, Frick Center, Tyrrell Fitness Center, Niebuhr Hall, Old Main, Schick Hall, Stanger Hall, and West Hall. Of these restrooms, some are more accessible than others.
“This campus has a population of trans students, and all-gender restrooms, for some people, are the only place they feel comfortable using the bathroom,” said Sam Sepke, secretary of the Queer Straight Alliance club on campus. “Some have to severely alter their schedule and go out of their way to make sure that they either get to a gender-neutral bathroom or that no one else is in the restroom.”
Sepke believes that the all-gender restrooms should be more easily accessible.
“[EC] staff need to make sure that the current existing all-gender bathrooms are unlocked and are not being used as a broom closet,” said Sepke.
Some of the all-gender restrooms are locked because Residence Life received complaints from facilities that those spaces were being misused.
“The only facility, to my knowledge, that is presently locked is a restroom in the lower level of West Hall,” stated Tim Griffin, assistant director of Housing Assignments and Facilities Management.
Students on campus sustain the importance of all-gender restrooms in facilitating a safe and comfortable environment for transgender, non-binary, and other individuals who require a more private space.
For many transgender or non-binary students, all-gender bathrooms can be a safe haven.
“If you use the restroom for the gender you were assigned at birth, then depending on how you look, you are going to face some discrimination or even harm…also, when going to a gendered bathroom, you are forced to pick one or the other which doesn’t align with who you actually are, ” continued Sepke.
Sepke also addressed the impact all-gender restrooms have on an institution from a marketing perspective.
“Some of our competing schools do have a lot better bathroom procedures, so if we wanna draw in more students and actually keep them, providing this necessity is important.”
EC is, however, taking strides to better accommodate the needs of students and staff on campus.
“As the college’s understanding of student needs changed over time, the signage outside of these facilities also began to change to reflect their suitability as all-gender restrooms,” said Griffin.
Organizations on campus are also working to advocate for more and better all-gender restrooms on campus.
Two years ago, QSA tried to create a more supportive environment for students by putting up fliers that said “You’re welcome here” in the different all-gender restrooms on campus.
“There was quite a bit of backlash from the community and some staff…the fliers were torn down,” Sepke said.