Norris to add gender open restrooms to third floor
Tyler Pager, Assistant Summer Editor
July 17, 2014 •
The third-floor bathrooms in Norris University Center will be converted to gender open restrooms in an effort to make Norris a more inclusive space. Both bathrooms will be available for people of any gender and the transition is scheduled to be completed before the start of Fall Quarter.
The third floor currently houses two multi-stall male and female bathrooms, which will not undergo any structural changes as they are transitioned to gender open bathrooms.
Devin Moss, director of the LGBT Resource Center, said his office sent out a survey to student groups and staff that work on the third floor to gather feedback about the possibility of creating gender open bathrooms.
“We received overwhelmingly positive information, and so we went with it,” he said. “We didn't really get any major concerns.”
Moss said the signs outside the bathrooms will be removed and his office is working with Facilities Management to create a universal sign to denote gender open restrooms. Once the design is finalized, it will be used throughout campus.
Gender open restrooms are also planned for the new parking structure adjacent to the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center and the new Kellogg School of Management building.
Rising Communication senior Bea Sullivan-Knoff identifies as a “transgender lady,” a self-created term she prefers over identifying as a female. She said she was excited to hear Norris was adding gender open restrooms and hopes they will be added to other campus locations.
“A bathroom should not have to be a place of proving oneself to others, but I often find myself self-conscious and nervous that someone will discover that my gender and biological selves do not cohere as most people are used to seeing,” she wrote in an email.
However, Sullivan-Knoff said she was disappointed to hear the bathrooms are located on the third floor.
“Trans people encounter discrimination and inconvenience at nearly every turn in our lives," she wrote. "I for one would have appreciated a stronger show of support by converting the ground or first floor bathrooms instead."
Atiya McGhee, a former intern in the department of campus inclusion and community, said the gender open restrooms are an important step in making Norris a more comfortable hub for student life.
Although she expects some students will be uncomfortable with the change, she said she hopes students will understand the importance of creating an inclusive environment for all students.
“Be supportive of it even if you’re not comfortable in the sense that you’re helping to make Northwestern more inclusive for gender nonconforming students,” she said. “They’re allowing for a space where students don’t feel the hostility of choosing one or the other.”