In the past year, gender-neutral restrooms have been added in the Life Sports Center, Walz Hall and Moyer Hall. Gender-neutral restrooms are also located in the Multicultural Center, Hillel, Seegers Union and other locations across campus, and the administration plans to assign more in the future.
“It’s definitely an issue that needs to be addressed in every single building on Muhlenberg’s property,” said Em Panetta ‘20. “Yes, these changes are great and should be celebrated, but being able to use the restroom comfortably and safely is something that is beyond basic. These changes are great and I appreciate the effort, but right now, I just want actual, significant change.”
Organizations such as Students for Queer Advocacy (S.Qu.Ad) and the Muhlenberg Trans Advocacy Coalition (MTAC) have advocated for gender inclusion and have helped spread awareness. MTAC has done copious work to get gender neutral bathrooms on campus, as well as encouraging the acceptance and visibility of all gender identities. Both of these groups meet in the Multicultural Center and are open to everyone in the college community, regardless of gender identity or sexuality.
“IT’S DEFINITELY AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IN EVERY SINGLE BUILDING ON MUHLENBERG’S PROPERTY”
Robin Riley-Casey, Director of Multicultural Life, emphasizes the need for gender inclusion in all aspects at Muhlenberg, including gender-neutral housing and education about these topics.
“We talk about equity and inclusion, and we must act on it,” said Riley-Casey. “We all have personal needs and there should not be segregated bathrooms, as we must ensure the environment is inclusive for all identities.”
She also believes that although the community is still looking at ways to introduce gender neutral restrooms to students, faculty and alumni, she sees the campus becoming more gender inclusive as a whole.
Until 2011, all bathrooms at Muhlenberg were gender designated, with the exception of bathrooms in suites and apartments. However, The Office of Housing and Residence Life has worked to spread awareness about the availability of gender-inclusive bathrooms in residence halls, particularly with the addition of one in Walz Hall. The renovation projects in Seegers Union and East Hall included gender-neutral restrooms as well.
“We talk about equity and inclusion, and we must act on it. We all have personal needs and there should not be segregated bathrooms, as we must ensure the environment is inclusive for all identities”
“There has been a full committee made up of faculty, staff and students at the College who have worked on the gender inclusive restroom project and that group will continue to look at additional building priorities for the coming year,” explained Allison Gulati, Dean of Students. The administration says they have also established a process for students who wish to change their preferred name. “The Registrar will work with any student who wishes to seek out this change so that it becomes official in all of our on-campus systems.”
“There are more plans for the future to continue the committee’s work and continue to improve access for all students in all spaces,” said Katie Shelley, Associate Director of Housing Operations. “It is important that all members of the Muhlenberg community have access to bathrooms they feel safe and comfortable in.”
Photo credit: Karly McCloskey