edited.Bathroom_RebeccaKanaskie2By Julia Fuchs

Elm Staff Writer

In response to requests by members of the campus community to create inclusive spaces, the first gender-inclusive bathroom at Washington College was established in the Johnson Fitness Center.

The bathroom used to be for men only, but the sign was recently changed to allow the space to be open to anyone who needs it, including gender non-conforming people, people with disabilities, and visiting family members. Jean-Pierre Laurenceau-Medina, the director of the office of Intercultural Affairs is largely responsible for this new accommodation.

“There was a proactive approach to create more inclusive spaces on campus. This was a collaboration brought up with the VP of Student Affairs Sarah Feyerherm, Johnny Jenkins, who is an administrator in Athletics and has an oversight in facilities within the JFC, and me,” Laurenceau-Medina said.

The Office of Intercultural Affairs and Student Affairs are resources on campus who promote inclusivity and help students feel that on campus, which is a never-ending endeavor.

“I think there is always more work to be done. There have been a lot of efforts on the way, efforts prior to my time here.

I’ve seen some improvements in my time here, and there will always be room for improvements,” Laurenceau-Medina said.

Any future concerns with respect to inclusivity can be brought up to Medina at the office of Intercultural Affairs in Caroline House.

Sophomore Samantha Robinson, the treasurer of the campus EROS (Encouraging Respect of Sexuality) approves of this initiative.

“I am very supportive of this restroom. Every day, trans and gender-nonconforming people face discrimination in many different facets of society. This bathroom represents progress towards eliminating discrimination at WC,” Robinson said.

Some feel there is a need for more accommodations, in terms of inclusivity on campus. While some residence halls accommodate for gender-nonconforming students, to many of the students and staff, this is merely a first step.

Claire Hansen, class of 2014, staff adviser for EROS, and office coordinator for the Center for Career Development, said of the new restroom, “I think that having one in the JFC is important for nonconforming athletes. What does it say to students if they are visiting the school for a game or looking at the school? They need a facility where they feel represented.”

Hansen believes that representation can come from the support of the community as well.

“We have a queer caucus here on campus, which is a group of LGBT faculty and staff. A lot of students don’t even know we exist. I think having more faculty and staff being out, if they are comfortable making their presence known to students, could be very important,” Hansen said.

The Elm

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