At issue: Too many years, too few gender neutral bathroom signs
Our take: Don’t work in increments, fix this now
Two years ago, Emerson installed ten gender-inclusive bathroom signs across campus—then for two years, nothing else changed. Now, after pressure from students who placed paper gender-inclusive signs over restrooms around campus, the college plans to change single-gender restrooms to gender-inclusive on the third and sixth floors of Walker Building and the second and fifth floors of Ansin Building. These additions amount to less than 20 gender-inclusive restrooms on the entirety of the Boston campus, at a school that prides itself on commitment to diversity and inclusion.
This cannot be another action to placate the student body until we once again grow frustrated. The college needs to commit to changing all bathrooms on campus to be gender inclusive now, not over the next few years in small increments. We know the school can change the signs, as we’ve seen in the past—so what’s the hold up?
And while we’re on the topic of signs, why do we not have gender-neutral signs in our theaters? These are Emerson-owned institutions and they should reflect our values. The school is slowly making changes to the LA and Kasteel Well campus, as we reported in January. The LA campus is adding the familiar “gender diversity is welcome here” stickers but has yet to change the actual bathroom signs. Kasteel Well will soon have gender-inclusive signs. This is a step in the right direction, but again we must wonder why it took this long for our other spaces to match our main campus. Emerson students should feel comfortable and accepted regardless of whichever campus they study at, or which building they enter, not just on certain floors of Walker or Ansin.
Listen, there’s no way these signs are a bigger investment than building leases and construction projects. We found signs similar to ours online that cost $42. New dorms and social spaces are an important investment for future students—but this is a short-term investment that could further inclusivity on our campus.
Last week, Emerson Flows began providing free tampons, sanitary napkins, and panty liners in 35 different restrooms on campus. The organization decided to place these products in the most frequented restrooms, regardless of the gender sign outside the door. This group set a great example of how to ensure students of all identities feel comfortable using the bathroom.
For issues like this one which are within the school’s power to resolve, we all need to care. We can’t let up pressure and wait for a few more bathrooms to flip every few years. Even us at the paper let it slip for far too long, but now we are calling for change—and we won’t wait two more years to cover this again.