by Hayley O’Brien
Whitworth University is working to install private, gender-neutral bathrooms on campus to accommodate people who are differently abled, have families and/or are transgender.
“There are a bunch of different needs on campus and other campuses have found that having a private, lockable bathroom has been the best situation,” said Dayna Jones, the assistant dean of Student Life.
Currently, existing bathrooms designated for the change will be converted by adding a locking outside door and a sign that includes the male, female and handicap symbols, Jones said.
“It’s not taking a toilet away from anyone else. It’s providing a designated safe space,” Ashton Skinner, ASWU cultural events coordinator, said.
The first restroom to be converted from public and gendered to private and neutral is the men’s room outside the Dining Hall. Student Life funds the renovation, Jones said.
“At this point, if someone is in a wheelchair, and needed an assistant, they have to go all the way through [Sodexo], take the elevator to the Crow’s Nest, interrupt whatever might be going on in the Crow’s Nest, just to use a bathroom because they need assistance,” Jones said.
There are tentative plans to convert 11 currently private restrooms on campus from gendered to gender-neutral by the end of the summer, Jones said in an interview last week. Those bathrooms are located in Duvall Hall, Boppell Hall, McMillan Hall, Dixon Hall, Cornerstone Dance Studio and McEachran Hall.
“We know what needs to get done and now it’s just a matter of setting these changes into motion,” Skinner said.
For those students who need a private bathroom, Whitworth currently has 15 private gender-neutral restrooms on campus, specifically in the Crow’s Nest, the Health Center, Ballard Hall, Warren Hall, Stewart Hall, Baldwin-Jenkins, East Hall, McEachran Hall and Hendrick Hall (ISC).
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