Ramapo adds gender-inclusive restrooms to the Student Center

Recently, West Virginia’s legislature proposed a bill that would place restrictions on the restrooms transgender students could use in schools. This is one of many bills that have been presented over the past year that have centered around the transgender community and gender-affirming practices. 

However, despite these events, Ramapo students were welcomed upon returning from winter break with new additions to campus. One of these additions is the changing of two restrooms in the Student Center into gender-inclusive restrooms. Across the way from the stairs leading to the Atrium, the two bathrooms have new signs stating that “all genders” are welcome to use them. 

The idea of adding these gender-inclusive restrooms has been around for quite some time, with a Ramapo News article published in 2017 mentioning the idea. At the time, all that was stated was former student Grace Maute was hoping to install gender-inclusive restrooms in the Student Center. 

In addition to these new restrooms, director of the Center for Student Involvement Rick Brown mentioned in an email interview with the Ramapo News that they are working with the Office of Capital Planning to make the bathroom signs consistent, as some say “all gender” while others say “gender inclusive.” 

Creating these new spaces can help many, including but not limited to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In an interview with the Ramapo News, system and web development librarian and head of Ramapo Pride Samantha Wittenberg mentioned who else may benefit from the change.

“Having gender-inclusive restrooms is important for more groups than people might think… people who might have caretakers or assistants that need to be with them… and people who come here with their kids, too,” she said.

Alex Woods, coordinator of the Women’s Center & LGBTQ+ Services, finds the change to be necessary to make Ramapo a safer space for those who identify as gender non-conforming. 

“The importance of these facilities being accessible becomes evident when considering the challenges that individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community may face when navigating traditional gender-specific restrooms. Experiencing discomfort, anxiety, or fear of judgment can significantly impact a student’s ability to fully engage in academic and social activities,” they stated over email.

Aside from the new restrooms, Brown also mentioned other resources for LGBTQIA+ students and ways in which Ramapo is continuing to work towards inclusivity.

“While the [Gender Inclusive Housing] program has been running well for several years, we are continually looking at best practices and for ways to improve the program. We also offer safe zone/safe space training for areas that are interested in fostering more inclusive environments and resources for LGBTQ+ students,” he stated. “Additionally, through the Women’s Center & LGBTQ+ Services and the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP), we offer several identity-based discussion groups including for LGBTQ+ students, women of color students, and male-identified students (Healthy Masculinity group).”

As for what could come next, Woods suggested the idea of displaying pronouns on class rosters to continue empowering students.

“The Center for Student Involvement (CSI) has been nothing but supportive of [the Women’s Center’s] mission by embracing inclusivity at the heart of campus activities… Our commitment to inclusivity is not confined to specific spaces but is becoming integrated into the broader fabric of the college community,” they stated.




Featured photo by Amalie Hindash