Designating a bathroom to be gender equal is nothing more than a publicity stunt. It’s something that was likely sent to everybody in a “Good News” e-mail from the PR department. Trying to make people feel more comfortable at the university is a step forward, but changing one bathroom is just that. One step forward.
Compare it to making the campus wheelchair accessible. We don’t build one ramp and then consider it a job well done there needs to be a consistency around campus. As of now, there is one gender-neutral bathroom. If someone is too uncomfortable to use a designated gender bathroom, they only have one option of places to go which is extremely inconvenient.
It’s been reported that there are nine other bathrooms that are open to receive gender-neutral signs. That brings up another point, these bathrooms were always open to everyone. The only thing that that will change is that now these bathrooms have cute signs that anger old Republicans. Is that small a change really what we qualify as a step forward?
If SRU is actually dedicated to pushing gender-equal bathrooms, they should prove it by doing something that’s substantial. One of the options that is currently being considered is to build more throughout the campus. This, however, seems unrealistic. All we’ve been hearing about lately is how the entire Pa. higher education system is in a financial crisis and is threatening to fire faculty members. It would send an undesirable message to the public if they found out how much we were spending on new bathrooms, while at the same time so many other cuts were being considered.
While trying to be more inclusive with gender-neutral bathrooms is admirable, the university is at a dead end at how to move forward. Sure, they can rename bathrooms that already allow anyone to use but I wouldn’t consider that to be a serious effort to bring about change. Maybe in the future, it will be feasible to create a feeling of true equality when it comes to bathrooms but as of now, the university has only taken that one small first step.