Gender neutral restrooms reflect EMU’s tolerance for discrimination

Gender neutral restroom sign located in Best Hall.

Discrimination is alive and well in the world, but not tolerated on Eastern Michigan University's campus. Students and patrons of the campus are encouraged to express themselves freely with out fear of discrimination. Throughout this past year the change in signage of many unisex restrooms to gender neutral restrooms across campus has been one display of EMU’s stance on discrimination.

“Restrooms are the most challenging spaces we would have in any of our buildings,” said Robert Densic, EMU Planning and Design Manager.

Public University buildings are held to specific building code. The building code regulates how many male or female restrooms are required per building, and is based on a formula that takes into account the use of the building, and the number of user or occupants. The building code formula leaves some leeway for additional restrooms to be unisex restrooms. Last year Eastern Michigan University Planning and Design team changed the signage of about 32 of the 62 public restrooms on campus to Gender Neutral, which breaks down to about 51 percent.

Under ideal circumstances any incidents of discrimination on Eastern Michigan University's campus will be funneled to Title 9 Coordinator, Melody Werner. Werner has made her doors open to anyone seeking advising regarding discrimination on campus. Her office is located on the second floor of the student center in room 246 B.

“There is currently no quota for gender neutral restrooms that has been set for public college buildings. I believe when Eastern looks at building new buildings we will incorporate gender neutral restrooms into the plan after meeting the building code quota for men’s and women’s,” said Werner.

Werner spoke of how she doesn’t foresee there being any controversy that hinders EMU’s campus from its forward progression, but instead stated, “the entire community at Eastern is progressive in terms of how they are looking at this issue. We generally would just not prohibit someone who identified as a certain gender from using that bathroom of their choice, and if a person used the restroom of their choice and that created any controversy then we would then handle that situation when it came. Depending on the situation I would have to involve the necessary people in order to come up with a solution.”

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