BRITTANY BLUTHARDT | STAFF REPORTER | BBLUTHAR@BUTLER.EDU
More gender inclusive restrooms will be installed around Butler University’s campus this year. Last fall, the first gender inclusive restroom was placed in the Health and Recreation Complex.
Rich Michal, executive director of the Facilities Office of Service Center Operations, said he believes Butler University will add more inclusive restrooms in the future. Michal hopes to place gender inclusive restrooms in all academic buildings within the next four to five years.
“We’ve been working through student groups, the (Efroymson) Diversity Center and people in student affairs to try to approve the accessibility of facilities for gender inclusive restrooms,” he said.
Michal said adding inclusive restrooms to certain older academic buildings, like Jordan Hall, will be difficult due to lack of space. Despite this, all new construction for the Lacy School of Business and future academic remodels will include plans for gender inclusive restrooms.
“For all new construction, it is our standard to provide multi-use restrooms,” Michal said. “They are the most efficient and easiest to build and allow us to meet our plumbing codes. It is our standard to provide at least one single occupancy within the banks of men and women’s restrooms.”
Michal said another gender inclusive restroom will be located in Jordan Hall by the end of the semester. Currently, gender inclusive restrooms are located in all residence halls and select academic buildings.
Alex Jones and Melissa Evans are first-year students at Butler.
“I really appreciate that Butler University, despite what statistical diversity they may possess, is trying to be inclusive and to make it part of the ‘Butler Way,’”Jones said. “I believe that they are sending out the message that it’s not a choice whether or not you’re going to accept someone else for their identity.”
Evans shares a similar sentiment.
“There is no harm in being inclusive,” Evans said.
This acceptance, Evans said, spread to classroom syllabi and residence hall surveys where options to choose gender identity and preferred pronouns are available.
“I think that as a private institution who is completely self-governing of the messages that they send out have the responsibility to take such an open, accepting stance and to tell everyone that it’s not really a choice,” Jones said.
Presently, there are no gender inclusive restrooms in Clowes Memorial Hall, Howard L. Schrott Center, Holcomb Building, Gallahue Hall or Fairbanks Center. The amount of gender inclusive restrooms averages two or three per building. Most are located in Irwin Library, the HRC and Lilly Hall where up to eight gender neutral restrooms are available.
“It is going to be a work in progress,” Michal said. “We all agree moving forward to do anything to minimize the distance between them (gender inclusive restroom locations).”