Consistent with gender-neutral initiatives Albion is striving for, two restrooms in Goodrich Chapel are now open to people of all gender identities.
On Jan. 30, dual washrooms located in the Music Department of the chapel were newly designated as unisex. The change arrives due to a Student Senate resolution titled “Spectrum Housing Initiative.” Student Senators senior Lauren Roberts of Saline and first-year Phillip Carlisle of Indianapolis, Ind. sponsored the initiative, which was first presented Nov. 21 of 2011. The resolution passed that same day.
Student Senate preside Casey Hoffman, Menominee senior, explained how support for gender-conscious measures has gained momentum in the wake of the gay pride flag burning during the fall 2010 semester.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our campus has the most pro-LGBT Student Senate in Albion College’s history,” Hoffman said.
According to Roberts, the newly-appointed unisex bathrooms are part of a larger effort to make the campus more gender inclusive, particularly for potential or current transgender students.
“It’s a cool opportunity to do something tangible for potential trans students. We’re a campus that recognizes trans students want to be safe,” said Roberts, Saline senior.
The unisex bathroom initiative was paired with an additional resolution for more gender-inclusive housing options for students called “Spectrum Housing”. The housing resolution argues that Spectrum Housing “will help members of the Gender and Sexuality Minority community and their supporters on campus feel safer and more included in our residential housing system.”
Roberts believes creation of this policy will provide options for these students without forcing them to “out” themselves in their quest for safer living arrangements.
Dean of Students Dr. Sally Walker made the necessary arrangements to ensure the restrooms were converted to unisex.
“Since my arrival at Albion, there has been an effort to add unisex bathrooms, e.g., Science Complex, KC, and now Goodrich Chapel,” Dr. Walker said.
Providing gender inclusive on-campus facilities is something Albion College administration must keep in mind for future renovations, Roberts explained. The Office of Residential Life recently approved the Owl House as a location for students interested in applying for mixed-gender housing. However, eligibility is limited: currently, only seniors may apply to live in the Owl House. This option is in effect for the 2012-13 academic year.
“We’re not a very proactive campus–we’re a very reactive campus. It’s out of our character to do these things. Somewhere down the line, this might help someone,” Roberts said.