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The Antelope

The Antelope

Single-use restrooms part of bigger inclusivity project

YEJIN KANG / ANTELOPE STAFF Students should lock the main door of the adapted, single-use facilities.

There is a subtle difference about one set of restrooms in the Nebraskan Student Union. The restrooms just north of Subway are now gender-inclusive and intended for single-use. 

The Division of Student Affairs is working to create an inclusive environment on campus.

“We’re not trying to meet a minority access issue,” said Gilbert Hinga, dean of Student Affairs. “We’re trying to meet an access issue for everyone.”

The Nebraska University system is moving toward policies that promote a gender-inclusive environment, and this is the first step for UNK. 

But this is only the beginning of the process. 

Gendered signs have been replaced and locks have been installed on the main doors of these restrooms to make them gender-inclusive. While they were previously multiple-use restrooms, the intention is that individuals enter and lock the door behind them while using the restroom.

“We’re trying to deliver positive outcomes and experiences for everybody,” said Maha Younes, UNK’s chief diversity officer.

Younes said the goal is to remodel these restrooms as well as others on campus to be properly gender-inclusive. Since construction cannot be done in these spaces during the school year, the conversion to single-use restrooms has provided more immediate implementation of gender-inclusivity policies. 

Younes said the plan is to do construction over the summer to convert this set of restrooms in time for the next academic year. The final goal is to have a gender-inclusive restroom in every building on campus. 

There are several options of what gender-inclusive restrooms could encompass, and research is being done to find the best practices for the new layout.

Supporters realized the need for gender-inclusive restrooms to minimize the possibility of harassment for people in the LGBTQ community.

“My goal is to provide a welcoming environment where all people feel accepted and heard and that we have room and space for everyone,” Younes said.

Another part of the project will be the addition of lactation rooms in every building on campus so nursing students, faculty and staff have private areas for that purpose. There are currently two lactation rooms on campus — one in the Calvin T. Library and the other in the Health and Sports Center.

Although the single-use restrooms have been a step forward for the LGBTQ community, there has been some confusion surrounding the intended method of usage for the restrooms. 

This week, clearer signage was placed to correct the problem. 

“Students are at the core of what we do,” Hinga said. “I really feel like, in the end, the purpose and reason for doing all the things we are trying to do is to make sure students are in an environment in which they can focus on their education and learn from each other.”

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