The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Senate voted unanimously during its Feb. 7 meeting to pass a resolution to change the restrooms on the second floor of the Smith Campus Center (SCC) from gender-specific to gender-inclusive.
“I think it’s the natural next step in having some of the more public spaces have this option,” said Ellie Ash-Balá, SCC associate director and Senate advisor.
Pomona has already taken significant measures toward gender-inclusivity. Many residence halls and academic buildings already include gender-neutral bathrooms, including the bathroom in the SCC’s basement. Some members of the Pomona community, however, have noticed that this location and language is not entirely accommodating.
“It’s clearly also where the housekeeping dumps the mop buckets and stuff,” Ash-Balá said. “We want the Smith Campus Center to be a welcoming place to everyone in the community.”
To become a gender-inclusive bathroom, a stall will be placed around the urinal in what is currently the men’s restroom. Ash-Balá also hopes to include educational signs around the new gender-inclusive space.
“The idea would be at first to have some educational signs in the space [that explain] the term gender-inclusive and why it’s important that everyone feels comfortable going to the restroom, and that this is a space where you’re not going to be judged or questioned on what your gender is,” Ash-Balá said.
A clause in the resolution acknowledges the conscious change from the term “gender-neutral” to “gender-inclusive.” Director of the Queer Resource Center Adriana di Bartolo explained the significance of this change.
“‘Gender-neutral’ no longer accurately describes all individuals who don’t fall in the traditional gender binary,” di Bartolo said. “For most everybody, whether you identify as bigender, or agender, or all genders, you’re saying, ‘Actually no, my gender is important.’”
The cost of placing a stall around the urinal will be the primary cost for the renovation, although the price of the stall has yet to be determined.
“Our next step would be to get quotes from the facilities folks on what it would cost to put a stall around the urinal in what is now the men’s room,” Ash-Balá said. “We don’t think it’ll cost that much.”
According to Ash-Balá, the ASPC Senate included language in the resolution that would preemptively combat any pushback.
“Just in case there were some folks … who weren’t comfortable with it, [the students] wanted to be able to say, ‘No, we’re for this,’” Ash-Balá said.
ASPC Vice President for Finance Alex Samuels PO ’15 said that he did not expect pushback from any students on campus.
“If anyone is to complain, it will probably be visitors to campus to whom this situation may be novel,” Samuels said.
Di Bartolo acknowledged that any pushback or backlash to gender-inclusivity in general may serve as a conversation starter.
“People usually push when they don’t know or when they’re scared,” she said.