By Aurora Ortiz
The United States has made many changes to help the country promote social equality. One of the changes made single-occupant bathrooms gender neutral. In May 2016, the federal government issued public schools to allow transgender students the use of the bathroom that corresponds to their identifying gender. The government threatened to cut funding if educational institutions did not comply. Many colleges jumped on board with the initiative despite the difficulty of public schools. Wilson College is one of the many institutions that joined this nationwide movement.
According to Sherri Sadowski, Director of Residence Life, the designation of single-use bathrooms with assigned genders came about due to their proximity to areas with a higher prominence of one gender. The changes may seem to have come out of nowhere but the college administration has discussed these changes for a while. This idea became a reality when different residence halls changed to coed. Mary Beth Williams, Dean of Students, says that she has wanted to see gender specific bathrooms changed to gender-neutral. “There were students who were not comfortable using divided bathrooms,” Dean Mary Beth explains, “and we have the responsibility to be accommodating to all students, regardless of any and all differences.”
A team effort between the Dean of Students, the Residence Life Director, the Resident Assistants, Physical Plant and many others made the process a reality. Dean Williams talked to Sadowski last fall about the changes she wanted to see. The RAs assessed their halls and divided the other buildings around campus to look for places where this change would be possible. Support from the Wilson community has flourished since making bathroom changes. Dean Williams stated that she has had nothing but positive responses from staff and students. “There have been some negative comments online,” states Sadowski. “But the students and alumnae have jumped on it very quick.”
The all-gender bathroom signs make a statement of their own. Unlike most gender-neutral bathrooms that feature a half-male and half-female stick figure sign, the ones at Wilson have a toilet and a wheel chair. Dean Williams explained that the chosen signs represent what they are: “just a bathroom.” The changes to the bathrooms allows for making Wilson College a more comfortable place for everyone regardless of differences. Although there are no changes in the current agenda for Wilson College, Dean Williams and Sherri Sadowski agreed that if there is a need for more changes to accommodate the Wilson Community it will be done. Wilson College is taking many steps towards a more accepting and comfortable community.
If there are any questions regarding the new changes or a proposal for a new change, please contact Dean Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.