October 31, 2014
In recent weeks, it has become clear that the ideology of The Movement has expanded to encompass even more minorities groups on campus, including gender nonconforming students. The Movement has been pushing for a specific number of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. They say, “We demand Hamilton College to make one gender neutral restroom for every two gendered restrooms in every residential, academic, and administrative buildings.”
The Movement’s tactics to promote this idea have included papering demands onto bathroom doors across campus. Other groups on campus such as The Rainbow Alliance, the Womyn’s Center, the Black and Latino Student’s Union and La Vanguardia have continued this particular conversation, if not clearly supported The Movement’s goals for gender-neutral bathrooms.
We applaud these groups for recognizing The Movement’s goals. It is important that groups on campus engage in debate and discussion about issues that affect students on a day-to-day basis.
On campus, there are many existing gender-neutral bathrooms, something that has been growing over the years. Student movements have been consequential in pushing for gender-neutral bathrooms, which shows that Hamilton College is open to change. Nevertheless, there are not enough gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, particularly on the north (light) side of campus. Some buildings on campus feature gender-neutral bathrooms, but it is not clear because the bathrooms still retain the “Men” or “Women” label.
We at The Spectator support The Movement’s efforts to establish more gender-neutral bathrooms at Hamilton College. While we don’t necessarily support the premise that there should be a specific ratio of gender-neutral bathrooms to gendered bathrooms at this point, there should be at least an adequate number of bathrooms in each dorm and in each building that can accommodate our trans* and gender nonconforming classmates. It is important that all people feel welcome on the Hill regardless of their sexual or gender identity. Members of the administration should work with trans* students and relevant groups to come up with a standard for gender-neutral bathrooms and should enforce that standard accordingly. Bathrooms that are designated as gender-neutral should be stripped of their male or female labels and be clearly labeled as being gender-neutral.
Hamilton should also consider remodeling certain bathrooms in order to make them safer to all individuals. Models for doing this exist at other colleges including at Middlebury College, which remodeled at least two bathrooms to be gender-neutral in 2012. They did this because the believed that even if they removed the gender labels, bathrooms on campus would remain gendered by default. Hamilton should consider doing something similar after working with relevant groups on campus to determine what is appropriate.
As we continue to work toward being a more accepting campus, we must remember that gender-neutral bathrooms are just one step. Hamilton must be a nation-wide leader in LGBTQ involvement and activism. With the Days-Massolo Center and various other organizations, we have worked hard to improve our campus environment. But, we must remember that there can never be enough done in this field. The Spectator urges every member of the community to learn as much as they can and step in when issues arise.