You may have heard it referred to as the “gender neutral project,” the “washroom ungendering project,” or you may not have heard anything at all. Officially, it is now called the “multi-stall gender neutral project.”
At Tuesday’s Student Union board meeting, the board unanimously voted to have the second floor washrooms in the Student Union Building made gender neutral.
A multi-stall gender neutral washroom is a washroom facility that is open to anyone, regardless of gender identification. The women’s washroom on the SUB second floor will only see signage changes. However, in order to make the men’s washroom gender neutral, the urinals must be removed, a project that will cost $3,000.
The motion to vote on the proposal was put forward by Student Union president, Sukhi Brar.
“We’ve talked to UFV students, stakeholder groups, social work students, both working groups for feedback,” she said at the meeting. “What was identified for this as the best place is the second floor washrooms.”
In summer of 2016, a group of students expressed an interest to the Student Union to have all the washrooms of the Student Union Building made to be gender neutral.
Over the last year, the Student Union decided that it would make the most sense to change only the second floor washrooms, primarily because they’re on the same floor as the women’s and pride centres. Brar mentioned that there are also building codes that require a certain amount of male gender and female gender designated washrooms across all floors and it would not be possible to make the whole building gender neutral.
A few other universities across Canada have created multi-stall “all-gender” washrooms, including University of Victoria, University of Ottawa, and McGill University.
At the meeting, board of governors representative Robert Pedersen asked if there was an increase or decrease of risk in safety once the washrooms at other universities were made gender neutral.
Brar responded saying that UVIC, the closest school who has also made the washroom changes didn’t observe any changes.
“I reached out to their student affairs to ask if they’ve seen any conduct issues … based on the data, there’s been no change that came with the washrooms changing over,” said Brar.
Now with board approval, the conversion of the washrooms will take place this summer.