More all-gender bathrooms, locker space open at RIT
Students asked for more options, greater privacy
In response to requests from students, Rochester Institute of Technology is adding more all-gender bathrooms and locker areas across campus.
And soon, people of all genders can be using the same bathrooms at the same time, as RIT plans to incorporate all-gender bathrooms in some buildings, which will provide privacy in stalls, with common areas to wash hands. Plans are underway for a large all-gender restroom with 15 stalls on the main floor of the Student Hall for Exploration and Development (the SHED), expected to be completed in the fall of 2023.
Moore said the toilet stalls will be more private for the new all-gender bathrooms, with partitions and stall doors taller with smaller gaps at the top and bottom to allow more privacy.
“There will be no urinals, nothing that is gender-specific,” he said.
Already on campus are dozens of multiple single-use, all-gender, family-assist, or ADA accessible restrooms.
Ashton Marhevka, vice president of OUTspoken, a student-led organization that works within Student Government to help advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, welcomes the plans for new bathroom and locker areas. He credits his predecessors in recent years for speaking up and helping gain the existing all-gender restrooms on campus.
“There are so many in the community who really need these bathrooms,” said Marhevka, a third-year illustration major from Fords, N.J. “For gender non-conforming students, it makes them feel so much more comfortable. I know a student who has a class in a particular building and they have to go through this whole adventure to go downstairs and into another area just to pee. These areas are great additions and definitely helps a lot of students on campus feel more comfortable. But there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make everyone feel even more comfortable.”
David Stevens, director of the Center for Recreational Sports, said two private all-gender locker rooms will be up and running for the fall semester in the Student Life Center for use by students, faculty, staff, or alumni who identify as transgender and/or non-binary, who have or are transitioning, “or simply don’t feel comfortable changing in front of other people and want to use that space for a bit more privacy.”
Each room has three showers and toilets, two sinks, and a small bench.
Students wanting to use the rooms should request swipe card access and can come and go as they please during business hours.
Stevens said it’s not uncommon for 20 to 30 students to be in a traditional locker room at the center at any given time. The men’s area has 1,200 lockers, and the women’s has 800 lockers.
“They are huge locker rooms,” Stevens said. “Close to peak season, just prior to spring break, roughly 3,000 people use the locker rooms and showers each day.”
Stevens said he worked closely with The Q Center to make the most appropriate accommodations.
“We are very proud that RIT has a much higher percentage of LGBTQ+ students,” said Chris Hinesley, assistant director for Campus Life – The Q Center. “All-gender facilities have become commonplace at universities because they serve the needs of multiple populations. So they are a vital part of our overall strategy for including and supporting them.”