At its April 11 meeting, the Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) passed its first bill of Spring 2022 in support of implementing at least one gender-neutral bathroom in every academic building on campus by the end of the 2022–23 academic year.
The SGC motioned and voted to pass a recommendation for the Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in All Academic Buildings bill. There were no members opposed to the bill and seven members voted to pass it. Junior Tessa Kurtz, senator for the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, has been working on this bill since Fall 2021 along with junior Lila Weiser, chief of staff; senior Maxwell Powers, vice president of business and finance; and Luca Maurer, interim executive director for Student Equity and Belonging and director for the LGBT Center. While some academic buildings have one or more gender-neutral bathrooms, there are currently none in the Center for Natural Sciences, Friends Hall and the Hill Center.
“We have found that a lot of students who generally would use a gender-neutral bathroom would need to use a bathroom either in the building that’s gendered or need to go to another academic building, which would either cause them to miss class or cause them to be uncomfortable,” Kurtz said. “This is an exclusivity issue. Every student should feel comfortable going to the bathroom wherever.”
The college received a five out of five rating on the Campus Pride Index as well as the Best of the Best LGBT!-Friendly listing.
The bill states that any building built by the college after the 2022–23 academic year will be required to have an all-gender bathroom. The bill recommends that two multi-stall restrooms in each academic building be converted into gender-inclusive restrooms. Each toilet and urinal should have floor-to-ceiling stalls and every bathroom should have a supply of menstrual products. The bill recommends that each building that does not already have a gender-neutral bathroom should create two by converting one currently designated “female” and one currently designated “male.” Proper signage is also required in the bill. According to the bill, proper signage includes either “all-gender restroom” or “gender-neutral restroom.”
The bill outlines requested improvements for several academic buildings that already have one or more gender-neutral bathrooms. There are two gender-neutral bathrooms located in the Ceracche Center; one that has no menstrual supplies and one that inhabits an art supply closet. The Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise has eight gender-neutral bathrooms, three of which do not have menstrual supplies. There is a gender-neutral bathroom located next to Information Technology Services behind double doors that are not wheelchair accessible. The bill states that the gender-neutral bathroom in the Textor Hall/Muller Faculty Center junction does not have menstrual supplies and has a distasteful sign, showing one figure in a dress, one without a dress and one with half of a dress. The gender-neutral bathroom in the James J. Whalen Center for Music is located within Ford Hall and would be inaccessible if the hall was closed or in use and has improper signage in relation to the bill’s requirements — there is a sign with a figure in a dress and another not in a dress with the word “bathroom” written below. The gender-neutral bathroom in the Whalen Center for Music is located within Hockett Green Room and would be inaccessible if the room was closed or in use. The gender-neutral bathrooms in the library are located on the fifth floor — one with a urinal not enclosed with a stall.
In academic buildings like the Roy H. Park Hall, where there is only one gender-neutral bathroom converted from a former male bathroom, Kurtz said buildings that already have one gender-neutral bathroom will not be asked to convert another.
“In regards to the bill, we’re saying that there’s at least one gender-neutral bathroom in every academic building, and considering it already has one, that would be something I need to talk to the administration about considering,” Kurtz said.
Sophomore Nick Viggiani, Class of 2024 senator, asked Kurtz what will happen in Friends Hall because the building only has one male and one female bathroom in total. If the bill is implemented as is, that would mean there would only be gender-neutral bathrooms in Friends Hall.
“I think that could lead to some issues if you just have two gender-neutral bathrooms,” Viggiani said.
Kurtz said she was unaware there were only two bathrooms in Friends Hall and that there would need to be discussion with facilities.
After the SGC passed the bill without opposition, sophomore James Zampetti, vice president of communications, said the college has hired a new director for the Office of Energy Management and Sustainability. Zampetti — who has been on the search committee — said he was unable to name who had been hired until the director officially assumes the position in June.
Minutes before the SGC went into an executive session, The Ithacan asked the SGC if it had discussed the claims made against Luvelle Brown for allegedly abusing his son and misusing his power as superintendent of the Ithaca City School District. Brown is also on the college’s Board of Trustees. Junior Senate Chair Austin Ruffino said there had not been conversations among SGC members in any official capacity.
“Not yet,” Zampetti said.
Due to the nature of executive sessions, The Ithacan cannot confirm if the SGC discussed Brown.