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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Gender inclusive Hawk Hill

Two all gender restrooms located in the Office of Inclusion and Diversity in Campion (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Advocacy for more all gender bathrooms continues

Following advocacy from the student body, especially with work from SJU Pride, St. Joe’s implemented 36 gender inclusive restrooms throughout campus in 2015.

SJU Pride is a student organization that works to create inclusive spaces for the LGBT community and allies on campus.

A map listing all of the locations of the gender inclusive restrooms can be found through the Office of Inclusion and Diversity website.

Despite the implementation of these restrooms, there is still a lot of work being done by both students and faculty in order to increase access to these facilities at St. Joe’s.

Kerry Dowd ’19, one of three leaders in the campus advocacy and education section of SJU Pride, said that a sign is really the only thing needed to make an restroom gender inclusive.

An all-gender bathroom located in Barbelin Hall (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

“There’s not much else as long as all people can go into that restroom, it’s an all gender restroom,” Dowd said.

Mary-Elaine Perry, Ph.D., assistant vice president for student development and Title IX coordinator, explained that the gender inclusive restrooms on campus are currently single restrooms.

“Some places that you go they just have gender inclusive bathrooms,” Perry said. “We as an institution are not there yet, I don’t think. We’ll get there, I am confident of that, but as of right now it is just the single bathrooms.”

Will Marsh, ’18, the first interim Chair of Inclusion and Diversity for Student Senate, began working on the gender inclusive bathroom initiative in spring 2015 after a student, now an alum, who identifies as gender non-conforming, expressed their experience of what it was like using the restrooms on campus.

“The Student Senate decided that was a situation in which no member of our campus should be put it,” Marsh said. “In researching how other colleges campuses, 200+ at this point today, approach a change, the solution was a simple yet impactful solution. Plus, its required by Philadelphia statute that any new or renovated city owned building must include a gender inclusive restroom. While it may not apply to us, it was still a factor in our research.”

Student Senate and Perry worked with facilities to identify all of the single restrooms that could be all gender restrooms.

“The impact of seeing that sign is something that could change a prospective student’s mind or make a new faculty member comfortable, so yes it [the original initiative] met the goal but there’s still some work that needs to be done as we strive to be a inclusive and diverse community,” Marsh said.

Two all-gender restrooms are located in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Dowd explained that there are still a lot of buildings on campus that do not have gender inclusive restrooms. In order to continue working for these facilities on campus, SJU Pride created a petition that has about 200 signatures showing student support.

“We are trying to open more and it is just really hard to make that happen because one, there is construction that needs to happen and two, for some reason there is pushback with having multiple stalls in a bathroom for all people,” Dowd said.

Dowd hopes that in the next couple years every building will have an all gender restroom, however, the process of implementing new facilities takes time.

“There is not much for students to do besides getting faculty support and showing that there is student support, so that is where the petition came in,” Dowd said. “So, we have all of the students’ names who want this and members of the alliance are working really hard to make it happen and talking to facilities in order to make it all happen, but the process is mainly just waiting and talking to administration, which is what is happening with a lot of stuff on campus.”

Currently the focus is to have a gender inclusive restroom in the library, however, their main goal is for there to be a gender inclusive restroom on every floor of all campus buildings.

“We understand that just having every single bathroom turned into an all gender restroom will be difficult,” Dowd said. “Our goal is mainly just to have one on every floor. This way, it doesn’t disrupt a day to day life of somebody.”

Rachel Cox ’19, class of 2019 senator on Student Senate and current Chair for Inclusion and Diversity, said that the issue won’t go away soon.

“The bathroom situation is still on going, especially for residence halls where there is more of a binary force, especially in freshman dorms,” Cox said.

Most of the work being done currently is through the trans-inclusion working group, according to Cox.

“I know the school is making strides for that [gender inclusive restrooms] along with the master plan, they have a lot of that planned into it,” Cox said. “Unfortunately, the master plan is something that is more long-term.”

Dowd says that although St. Joe’s is moving in the right direction, they are moving very slowly.

“As an institution, we have just kind of restarted a committee to look at issues who are gender non-conforming, both students as well as faculty and staff,” Perry said. “So we are looking at a variety of things, what name shows up on a class list, what name is on your ID, things like that to enable to either transition or to feel that their name is affirming the identity that they have now versus the one they were given at birth. We are working on a variety of issues in that direction.”

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