By Julia Grimaldi
KU is making an effort to create gender-neutral bathrooms throughout the next few months. There are already gender-neutral bathrooms in Schaeffer Auditorium, Sharadin Arts Building and the Facilities Building, but soon, this change will affect the two single user restrooms in Lytle, Rickenbach and deFrancesco.
This project will provide new signs only, and will not involve any additional construction. However, at the conclusion of the spring 2015 semester, two gender-neutral bathrooms will also be installed during the reconstruction of the Cub Café.
“Speaking solely on behalf of the students of the Student Government Board academic affairs committee and the Allies Equality Network– [who are] involved in this project– the main intention of this change is to provide a more inclusive, accepting and comfortable campus environment for all students, staff, faculty and visitors,” said Letecia Garcia, chair of academic affairs for SGB.
Garcia has been heading the effort to implement gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. The university does not want to limit those who do not feel comfortable identifying as either male or female, or the gender the individual was born as, especially in a public setting.
This change was discussed in an Allies Equality Network meeting in the spring of 2014, when the group was founded. While the group has discussed many other projects, Garcia, a member of the organization, decided that this project would be the one implemented this academic year.
To implement this change Garcia worked with SGB’s academic affairs committee, including Rachel Mullen, chair of the student affairs committee. Garcia then met with Carol Sztaba, a KU facilities architect. Sztaba, Jerry Silverman, vice president of administration and finance and Robert Watrous, associate provost and dean of students, discussed the project and verified on Thursday, Feb. 12 that the project was to be completed.
SGB and Allies were working together to pay for the change of signage; however, KU administration has decided to cover the costs.
Currently, Allies is creating a pamphlet with information about this project, including the gender-neutral bathroom locations on campus.
“I am elated that KU is taking this huge step to express to the entire campus community and beyond that we are continually taking actions to ensure a more inclusive and comfortable environment for all students, faculty, staff and visitors for generations to come. This project is an outstanding example of what the collaboration between numerous student groups and administrators can accomplish for the greater good of all involved,” said Garcia.