Construction equipment and temporary trailers are scattered around campus as Ramapo continues to make headway in its many projects, all in an effort to improve the educational and communal environment of the campus. One of these projects, while small, represents a new direction for the campus and its community: a gender neutral bathroom in the Adler Center for Nursing Excellence.
President Peter Mercer announced this new addition during his State of the College address two weeks ago.
“The ground floor of the Adler Center for Nursing Excellence will have a gender neutral restroom,” he reported. “The space is scheduled for occupancy by April 15.”
According to Mercer, the Adler Center will not be the only building to have a gender neutral bathroom in place.
“There will also be a gender neutral restroom and a family attendant room on the first floor of G-wing. Both spaces are scheduled for occupancy by the fall 2015 semester,” Mercer explained.
The construction and renovation allows changes like a gender neutral bathroom to be implemented.
“The issue of gender neutral bathrooms was raised previously,” said Stephen Hudik, assistant vice president of communications and public relations. “They are not required by building codes, while the number of fixtures in men’s and women’s restrooms are set by code. We could not remove those fixtures already in place.”
While unable to change other restrooms currently labeled as male or female, the extra step of adding a whole new bathroom specifically to be gender neutral is a step towards inclusiveness. The College community seems to have no criticism for the project.
“We have not had any negative feedback on plans for these facilities,” Hudik notes.
With gender and sexuality being major topics in today’s society, the College seems to be taking steps to accommodate students of all identities. President Mercer later spoke about sending students to Camp Pride in his College address.
“In July, the College sent four students to Camp Pride, a summer leadership institute for LGBT students and allies that focuses on social justice action and inclusivity. Students returned from the camp with ideas on effective strategies toward helping Ramapo College sustain an LGBT-friendly climate,” said Mercer.
The topic of gender neutral bathrooms is coming up more and more in today’s changing society.
“If you need to go to the bathroom and it’s really a hard decision for you identifying to a specific sex, I feel like that would be a better option so that you feel safe,” said freshman Naomi Krenitsyn.
Krenitsyn also feels that gender neutral bathrooms should be a more common feature at Ramapo.
“For every female and male bathroom, there should be a gender neutral bathroom. I feel in like 20 years it’ll be a lot more common,” she said.
Junior Cassandra Kadel pointed out that on other college campuses, gender neutral bathrooms are already a common installment.
“Some colleges have it throughout the campus, like in dorms and other buildings,” Kadel said. “Gender neutral bathrooms are only not normalized because we’ve made it that way. Who says you can’t go into the bathroom with someone of the opposite gender or because of your gender identity? It’s something we’ve made up.”
Regardless of the plan for future construction projects, these gender neutral bathrooms are enough to show that Ramapo College is committed to change and to making all students and staff in the Ramapo community feel safe and accepted. Some students see them as a beacon of hope for a changing society, while others may just see another couple bathrooms, but they remain a welcomed change to Ramapo’s campus.
“I think if we feel comfortable enough with gender neutrality, we’ll make more,” said Kadel. “They’re probably going to see how this works out before they plan more.”