The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Next steps to an inclusive campus

Expanding gender-inclusive facilities on campus

Imagine those eight hour days spent in the library in the weeks before exams. We’ve all been there; a long day held up in the library, studying for upcoming midterms and finishing papers due that week.

Now imagine that every time you had to go to the bathroom, you either had to leave your things in the library and walk to another building to use a restroom you feel safe in.

There are 36 all-gender restrooms on campus, but there are none in the library or in Mandeville Hall. While our campus took a big step in 2015 by labelling single-person restrooms as all-gender, we still have a lot more work ahead of us to ensure that our facilities are inclusive.

First, we ought to have all-gender restrooms in every building on campus. Right now, almost all the bathrooms on campus labelled as all gender restrooms are single-person. The campus buildings that don’t have an all-gender restroom are the ones that don’t have single-person restrooms that are accessible to all students, faculty and staff.

However, single-person restrooms and gender-neutral restrooms aren’t the same thing. Other institutions, such as Northwestern University and Fordham University, have expanded beyond the single-stall variety of gender-neutral bathrooms to implement multi-stall restrooms of the same nature.

The next step we have to take to make our campus inclusive is establishing gender-inclusive housing options. Campus Pride defines gender-inclusive housing as housing wherein students can have a roommate of any gender. Around the country, 265 colleges and universities have opened gender-inclusive housing options, including 23 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, according to Campus Pride.

As for Catholic universities, Georgetown University approved a Living Learning Community, similar to our Residential Learning Communities, for LGBTQ students in January 2018.

The university has launched a strategic planning process, and has already announced changes to housing, specifically reducing the number of sophomore housing spaces; both Lancaster Courts and St. Mary’s Hall will be closing at the end of this academic year.

As we move forward into the implementation phase of this process, we ought to put resources into changes that will help our school thrive in a competitive market for higher education and more fully realize our values, especially our goal to be an inclusive campus. To do so, we need to make our campus facilities gender-inclusive. Having these spaces helps make our campus more attractive to a more diverse set of students, and may be the deciding factor for some students who are especially concerned for their safety in gender-segregated spaces.

As a Jesuit university, we need to make bold decisions to live out our values and be a community that cares for the whole person and offer spaces where everyone can be true to themselves.

In the coming years, as we try to position our school more competitively, our campus needs to take the steps necessary to make St. Joe’s a place where our students, faculty and staff can feel safe in all our campus spaces. We cannot achieve that goal without ensuring inclusive facilities for all students who might need them.

—The Hawk Staff

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