UCM creates more inclusive bathrooms on campus

Written by Muleskinner Staff

News Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Buildings campuswide are changing the way restrooms are classified.

PHOTO BY BRANDON BOWMAN / PHOTO EDITOR Gender-neutral restrooms are becoming more available across the dorms.
Gender-neutral restrooms are becoming more available across the dorms.

The university, in conjunction with the UCM Office of Mentoring, Advocacy and Peer Support, have started converting several restrooms into gender-neutral facilities in an effort to promote inclusivity. Sources contacted for this story could not confirm the total number of bathrooms that are being converted.
“UCM received feedback from various students about a need for gender-neutral restrooms,” said Jeff Murphy, assistant director of media relations. “The university wants people to feel included while they are on campus, and facilities that promote inclusivity are important in meeting this goal.”
The university has already reclassified single-stall restrooms in Wood and Martin buildings. Additionally, a new inclusive restroom on the second floor of the Elliott Student Union is completed, but not open yet.
“While we will continue to look at other areas on campus where such facilities could be made available, placing a gender-neutral restroom in the Elliott Student Union is a proactive step in providing support for all members of the campus community and its guests –particularly in one of the highest traffic areas of campus,” Murphy said.
Deb Hobson, director of the Elliott Student Union, said the Union’s new unisex restroom, which cost just under $30,000 to complete, was created to accommodate families, an aging population who might have a caregiver and transgender students and visitors.
Tara Napoleone-Clifford, IDEAS Coordinator for the MAPS Office, said she wasn’t working there at the time but is familiar with the project.
“Some women students with children were looking for places to nurse,” she said. “Some of our transgendered or nongender-conforming students were looking for a safe place to use the restroom, and so – since we’re an advocacy office – we were looking to make sure that everybody had equal access to use restrooms without having to go to another building or leave the area they were taking classes in.”
Napoleone-Clifford said the creation of inclusive restrooms on campus is important so everyone has equal access to simple things in life – like using the restroom.
“I know trans students who have gone three buildings over to find a safe place to go to the restroom because they’ve had a bad experience in one, or there are too many people in the restroom and there might be a problem,” Napoleone-Clifford said. “It’s just for equal access and for students to be able to do what they need to do on a daily basis without worry of violence or any sort of harassment or a scene.”
Napoleone-Clifford said people shouldn’t view the restrooms as just for one group of people. She said anyone can use the restrooms – that’s what makes them inclusive.
“The hope is that people don’t see these as an exclusive, but anybody can use this restroom,” she said.
Napoleone-Clifford said the goal of the MAPS office is to put an inclusive restroom is every building on campus.
“We need to be the leader in this area for inclusivity. And this is a simple way that we can do that.”