Kanter Student Center will get unisex bathroom

Anna Cole, St

Wayne State College’s PRIDE group is working with campus administration to install unisex bathrooms on the second floor of the Kanter Student Center.

“We have a large number of individuals who would feel more comfortable using that restroom as just a place where they can feel safe and do their business,” Caleb Hayden, president of PRIDE, said.
Hayden also mentioned that members were passionate about getting these unisex bathrooms installed for parents with young kids or children with special needs.

“To have a gender neutral space would allow for the family aspect, which is super important,” Hayden said. “There are other individuals who would like to not conform to the way society says they have to be.”

PRIDE started this initiative during the spring semester last year with a petition that got 287 signatures.

“From that we have been working on the process of talking to administration,” Hayden said.

PRIDE has gotten approval for the unisex restrooms from administration, but a few questions still remain about the remodeling of the bathrooms in question. Jeff Carstens, vice president and dean of students, took the time to address these questions.

A question concerns the signage of the restrooms. PRIDE would like to see signs showing that the facilities are for anyone to use, as opposed to family restroom signs that, while still unisex, are made with families in mind. They would also like to avoid the use of modern unisex symbols, as those also carry meaning that may not be universal and accepting to all people.

“The proposed signage will say ‘RESTROOM,’ with no other designation,” Carstens said.

One big question that many students have concerning the unisex restrooms involves the privacy of the individuals using the restrooms.

“Are there going to be locks on the outside of the doors and on the individual stalls to let that individual know ‘this is a safe place for me,’” Hayden said. “Providing a lock on the door would allow them to choose.”

“All gender-inclusive restrooms will be single-user restrooms with a lockable entry door for full privacy,” Carstens said. “Thus, there doesn’t appear to be a need to provide additional privacy within the bathroom. So, it is unlikely that partitions will be installed around urinals. Stall locks will remain unchanged.

An idea was proposed to add a chair in the restrooms to provide breastfeeding moms a safe and quiet place to feed their children. Carstens said a chair will most likely not be included in the unisex bathrooms.

“A bathroom is just not an adequate place for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk. WSC is using, as a model, the U.S. Department of Labor Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which states: ‘Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk,’” Carstens said. “While the ACA provision does not specifically mention ‘student,’ Wayne State extends similar accommodations to students, upon request.
Appropriate locations, other than bathrooms, will be provided for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.”

Carstens said he hopes the project can be completed by the beginning of the spring semester and perhaps even sooner.

“Wayne State College is committed to providing accessible campus restroom facilities. Students may use any restroom facilities that correspond to their gender identity,” Carstens said. “Once all signage and door locks have been installed, the locations of all restrooms on campus, including gender inclusive restrooms, will be posted on the college’s website.”

PRIDE hopes that having these restrooms will not only help give people a safe and comfortable place to use, but also normalize the LGBTQ+ community on campus, and help put Wayne on the map as a community and college where change happens.

“We want to make everybody’s life better and what better way than to make Wayne State College a beacon to the Midwest,” Hayden said.