NIU needs more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus

By Chris Grask

All Gender bathrooms are on campus and students may have stepped into them without noticing.

There are 30 all gender bathrooms with most of them residing in Grant residence hall. Yet most of the academic halls are empty of all gender bathrooms, according to NIU’s website.  

NIU not having more all-gender bathrooms in the academic buildings  is a travesty. It is a band-aid on an ACL Tear of a problem.

All gender bathrooms are restrooms that allow any gender individuals identify with to enter without exclusivity. They include two closed stalls and two sinks usually, therefore everyone can be satisfied.

“The only cost of the change from the old bathrooms to the all gender bathroom is signage and lockage chain” Director of Gender and Sexuality Resource Center Molly B. Holmes said. “There is no major financial burden on the University.”

Financially, the change is not a major hindrance for the university or the taxpayer.  Which is often the first retort to any of these changes is why do the taxpayer or university have to pay for this. Most likely following up with a use of whataboutism where they attempt to pick out another issue on campus.  

“I believe the first launch was in the summer of 2016,” Holmes said. “We haven’t had any concern with the change. I think people have questions. But adding options I believe is always viewed as positive.”  

With the changes that have been had at the university regarding bathrooms the once expected uproar is no less a meow. Hullabaloo may take place elsewhere but NIU has been accepting of the change. Such as the Target all gender bathroom controversy of twenty-sixteen. Religious groups such as American Family Association,  boycotted the store over the corporate policy for inclusiveness.

The faculty does not take much issue with the change but the students opinion is valid as well. Often times change is a lethargic hourglass, but the students yearn for higher inclusiveness.

“I think there should be more bathrooms on campus,” Alexander said. “For those that use these bathrooms it’s not fair or comfortable for them if they’re in a class that’s in a building without the gender inclusive bathrooms. Students shouldn’t have to travel to another building to go to the restroom.”  

Students deserve the right to be included in the community and inclusiveness is a way to bridge the gap. Northern has put a strong emphasis on community, and the building block to any community is camaraderie. What better way to strike up solidarity than to change out the segregated bathroom signs of old.

“We did not have gender-inclusive bathrooms. We did have family bathrooms in one building but that was as far as it went,” Hope Alexander, political science major, graduate assistant of the Center for Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality said. “The campus was like a family, though, so while it wasn’t as advanced as in its resources as NIU is, I think it was as inclusive as NIU.”  

NIU has made steps towards inclusion but they still have a way to go. Change is often gradual, and the adaptation of all gender restrooms is certainly hitting a snag.  We reached out to NIU administration about when their will be more all gender bathrooms.

“At this time there’s no timetable for the conversions,” Associate Director of Recreation and Wellness Andrea Drott said. “The plan is to have one in every academic building.”  

Regardless of their being no timetable there is hope that it will be done in the future. NIU may be lackadaisical with building projects, but the initiative to help all individuals is not.

“I think NIU is taking steps towards inclusivity such as through blackboard how you can now set your preferred name on there, so you don’t have to explain it to each professor.” Alexander said. “Steps such as these are crucial and need to continue occurring.”

NIU is still working towards full inclusivity. Everybody poops and who cares where they do their business. Hopefully, in a few years we will look on this issue and be surprised it was an issue in the first place. It’s time to flush out the old and start anew.