Feminist Activism Letter to the Editor
December 23, 2021
Dear NEIU community:
We write to raise awareness about the dismal state of all-gender bathroom access on our Campus and demand all-gender multi-stall restrooms in all campus buildings. Last week our Feminist Activism class took a tour of the all-gendered bathrooms on our campus. According to our student handbook, there are a total of eight single-stall all-gender bathrooms, two of which are inaccessible due to pandemic building closures. We currently have 6 accessible (2 in buildings B & D, 1 in BBH, and 1 in building E). Although our list seemed promising, we found our tour to be incredibly discouraging, and the longer we walked, the heavier it felt. There are no all-gender bathrooms in the Student Union, COBM, LWH, FA, Library, Physical Education, nor in Buildings C & F.
We kept thinking to ourselves, how could a school that prides itself on catering to our diversity, bring us so much adversity?
We started at building C, where there are no all-gender bathrooms. Building B has two all-gender bathrooms- one is across from B146, and one is inside the Pedroso Center. Unfortunately, the Pedroso center is not open all hours, and thus their all-gender bathroom is not always accessible. Building D has 2 bathrooms below Enrollment Services (D037&038), but they are only available when those services are open. Building E has one above the bookstore/covid testing site, but the lack of signs makes it hard for people to know it exists. The Bernard Brommel Hall (BBH) all-gender bathroom is located on the third floor (BBH 362A). Sadly this bathroom was out of order (another accessibility issue for students). On our tour, we visited the Physical Education Complex, the Library, LWH, College of Business & Management, Student Union, Building F (stage center), and the Fine Arts building. None of these buildings have all-gender bathrooms. The majority of campus buildings do not have all-gender-accessible bathrooms.
These few bathrooms are scattered throughout the campus and we felt frustrated because you need a map to find an all-gender bathroom that works and is available during campus hours. This needs to change, we need to have more accessible all-gender bathrooms in each building.
We need to prioritize safety for all, and not safety for some, which means having accessible bathrooms for non-binary, gender non-conforming, and transgender people. They encounter verbal and physical assault in men’s and women’s bathrooms, as statistics show. Providing
accessible all-gender bathrooms reduces the risk of assault and creates a welcoming environment for all.
Not only would gender-neutral bathrooms be great to non-binary and transgender folks,
but it will also help a lot of people with chronic disabilities, including IBS and other intestinal
conditions. Having to run to the nearest bathroom is truly sad and stressful. And there are so few all-gender bathrooms on campus expanding bathroom access will truly help people having this condition and other disabilities. Gender-neutral bathrooms also help families who need to use a restroom together and people with personal attendants that need extra care. These restrooms benefit everyone not only trans and non-binary people, their presence makes many feel welcome and included.
Public bathrooms have not always been gendered and making them gendered was a form of
policing of public space. Women entering the public workplace during the industrial revolution
needed access to restroom facilities and given the sexist ideologies about women and their bodies at the time, separate bathrooms became the mandated norm. There is also a history of racism and segregation in bathrooms in the U.S. Segregated bathrooms have a problematic racist and sexist past.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding bathrooms. There are claims that all-gender bathrooms reduce safety and privacy. However, studies have found that gender identity accommodations do not decrease safety in public restrooms for anyone, but rather create a more inclusive environment for all individuals.
Make both bathrooms on at least one floor of the Library, LWH, Fine Arts, Building C, Student
Union, and PE Complex into all-gender multi-stall bathrooms. Make the double entry/exit
bathrooms in the College of Business all-gender. For added safety put in floor to ceiling stall
doors and more mirrors.
We have included a map of where our current all-gender bathrooms are located in the meantime.