Lawrence University likes to tell people that it is an inclusive and diverse institution. It is a place where everyone is accommodated and included. The problem is, I have not found that to be the case. Aside from transgressions against students of color, which are numerous and which I cannot speak on, the other is the issue of the bathrooms. Every time I walk into the bathroom, I am assaulted with the reality that people do not believe that I exist. Even if they do believe that I exist—they only care enough to give me a bathroom which is way out of my way and intensely inconvenient to reach. But this is such an unnecessary problem, seeing as we can comfortably exist with floors that are cohabited by all genders who share the same bathrooms. The most private bathrooms could remain for all genders and be used by those who are uncomfortable with sharing. Though I find this to be a straightforward and simple solution, I understand that many people have misgivings on this topic, so let me address them.
First and foremost, people like to bring up urinals in this conversation as one of the reasons this cannot be a reality. To that, I ask, why it is necessary to have urinals outside of stalls? It is rather a strange place to break down our privacy barrier around nudity. Seeing as there is so much anxiety surrounding the size of one’s penis, I cannot imagine that many men would truly object to a more private urinal situation. If the bathroom experience is meant to be so private, then why is it the one place where we insist men should just display their penises for everyone to see.
Secondly, what is brought up is the very ominous idea of sexual assault. This is indeed a problem at Lawrence. However, how then do we account for the bathrooms on gender-neutral floors? To my knowledge, it has not somehow caused a massive increase in assaults on campus. Though people could be not speaking up which does happen a depressingly large amount of times, the fact still stands that people who would wish others harm will not be stopped by a sign that shows the “opposite sex”. It must also be noted that people (especially women and those assigned female) get harassed in all sorts of public places that are meant to be safe. So it seems that there is really nothing that stops such behavior much less a sign with a stick figure on it.
Lastly, opponents like to groan about cost. To which I would tell Lawrence, if you can spend thousands of dollars on a football field, my guess is that you have the budget to make new signs and construct some new stalls. Or you could simply just tape some new paper signs over the old ones, much like what is done during the President’s Ball.
Really, I think that this more has to do with an image issue, something that all colleges seem to be particularly concerned with. People would kick up a fuss and freak out about all the above “problems”, and donors would walk away. I can’t say that I will ever understand that, seeing as my identity directly suffers from it, but I would at least appreciate for Lawrence to stop making so many false problems about inclusivity when they would much rather keep us quiet than fix the problems.