Plattsburgh State will offer several more gender neutral bathrooms in both resident and academic buildings across campus. PSUC’s Title IX Coordinator Butterfly Blaise sent an email Jan. 24, specifying which specific campus buildings had the gender inclusive restrooms, along with its location in the building. Blaise stated in the email that the campus was also working to include a detailed map for students and visitors.
“We are constantly working on making more equity in terms of the resources and outlets for students on campus, and several years ago, it was brought to our attention from campus members, there was a need for bathrooms that were gender inclusive or gender neutral,” she said.
Blaise said faculty discussed the fact that individuals have the right to choose the bathroom that they identify with. Though the email was sent out this past week, Blaise said they had been working on including more gender inclusive bathrooms since fall of 2015.
“An effort was made where myself and Bryan Hartman went and identified all the bathrooms that could be assigned and identified as gender inclusive,” Blaise said. “The email was just to communicate to individuals who may be looking for these restrooms, and that we have more locations than previously identified.”
Blaise said there were reasons for the change in the first place. She said student advocates on campus began voicing that there weren’t enough gender neutral bathrooms. She said there was another factor in that the campus has simply gone through several changes over the past few years.
“We have been doing a lot more work in terms of increasing resources and making sure this campus is safe,” she said. “This was one of the things we looked at in terms of improvement.”
Blaise said this change is something they should have done a while ago, and she hopes that it will create more options for students.
“Individuals have rights. In order for people to be able to live a life where they feel supported, validated and full autonomy, we have to continue conversations,” Blaise said.
PSUC Center for Womyn’s Concerns secretary Steffany Wilcox was a part of the Presidential Sexual Assault task force for two semesters. Wilcox said that through this task force, there was an agenda list, and gender inclusive bathrooms were on the list to make the campus more gender neutral.
“It’s a good step. I think especially hearing the hateful speech of people’s transphobic comments on gender inclusive bathrooms,” she said. “It’s been coming up in the news over the past year of people saying everyone should be able to use their preferred bathroom.”
Wilcox said it’s great that it expands to resident buildings as well because that’s where students typically spend a majority of their time. Wilcox said it’s especially timely because of President Trump being elected into office.
“It’s also important now that we have President Trump who is already signing things that restrict rights of certain groups, and definitely trans individuals are one of the most marginalized groups,” Wilcox said. “I think it’s important that our school is saying ‘We’re not going to discriminate based on your outward appearance or social roles.’”
Wilcox said with more continued conversations, she hopes that there will be a greater push for people to educate themselves on the challenges and issues marginalized groups face.
“It’s a good time to have this conversation, but at the same time, it isn’t just a conversation,” she said. “We’re actually taking action as an administration. We’re not just going to talk about it.”
Email Kavita Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org