By Zachary Logan, Staff Writer
With Armstrong’s population growing, the school is thinking of better ways to host its diverse community. School officials are planning to make the campus more gender neutral by turning two bathroom facilities at the Memorial College Center into unisex restrooms.
The idea came just a few weeks after Armstrong hired Deidra Dennie as the University’s Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in March.
She says students were the reason for the change, and the gender neutral restrooms will help show that Armstrong welcomes all individuals to its campus. The restrooms will also solve any issues within the University’s transgender student population.
“I think our university is becoming much more accepting and compassionate when it comes to meeting the needs of all our students,” director of multicultural affairs Nashia Whittenburg said.
According to Kathryn Twining, director of facility services, the University’s first set of gender neutral restrooms will be located on the second floor of the Memorial College Center. She says there will be minimal renovation when it comes to turning the bathrooms into unisex. Facility services will simply remove the current men’s and women’s signs then replace them with signs reading either gender-neutral or unisex.
Locks will be installed on the main restroom doors to ensure safety and privacy for those using them. Twining mentions that unisex restrooms include one toilet, a sink, and a lockable door. However, because the university plans to renovate two existing restrooms and building codes forbid removing any of the fixtures, the gender neutral bathrooms will have to include multiple fixtures, yet will still be intended for one person occupancy.
The gender neutral restrooms will be ready within the next few months. Twining says that she recently received permission to order the renovation materials, and, once received, facility services will begin making changes. Staff and students can plan to see more of these gender neutral bathrooms coming to Armstrong. The school plans to add at least one gender neutral restroom to all building renovations in the future.
There has also been talk of a new pirate card that will allow transgendered students to have their preferred names printed on their pirate cards. Unlike the gender neutral restrooms, the new card is only an idea; nothing is set in stone.
According to Dennie, the card issue is much harder to resolve because the computer system that card services currently uses is associated with student’s legal records. Therefore, right now, all students’ pirate cards have their legal names printed on their cards, even though a student may not go by that name.
Dennie says that some universities in Georgia are already adding preferred names to their students’ cards, yet those colleges are using a different system than Armstrong’s. Dennie plans to continue working on the card issue and hopes to have options available to students in the near future.