Cowley: The U’s Bathrooms Are Lacking


Mary Allen

(Graphic by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Elle Cowley, Multimedia Managing Editor


In an effort to increase inclusivity on campus, the University of Utah has taken steps to create more gender-neutral restrooms on campus. I’m not going to sit here and say the U isn’t trying to create a better campus. All of the newer buildings on campus have built-in gender-neutral restrooms. However, what we have currently is not enough. Finding and using what’s available on campus is a chore. Unless you use the campus map, chances are you wouldn’t even know we have any. In their current state, our bathrooms do not serve our student body.

Where’s the Bathroom?

One of the main problems with the Us gender-neutral restrooms is that there simply aren’t many of them. Using the U’s campus map, students can toggle “all gender restrooms” under accessibility and safety to see the locations of every unisex bathroom on campus. The unisex bathroom finder makes it look like they’re all over campus, but when you look at the details, the scarcity becomes more apparent.

While it’s good we have any unisex bathrooms at all, their scarcity makes using them impractical. In some cases, students might even have to walk to a whole other building just to use the restroom. Say that someone is taking a class in the film and media arts building and has to use the restroom. If they want to use a gender-neutral one, they have to exit the building and either walk to the second floor of the architecture building or to the social & behavioral science building and take the elevator up a minimum of six floors.

This is completely unfair to any student who needs to use a gender-neutral restroom. If a student is in a hurry or rushing in between classes, they might not have time to take a 15 to 20-minute detour just to use the restroom. This leads to students using restrooms they’re uncomfortable in simply because they don’t have another option. Nobody should have to choose between their own comfort and having access to a restroom.

Unsanitary Conditions

Let’s say you’ve found a restroom to use after looking on the campus map and walking 10 to 15 minutes out of your way. You open the door and find the whole place disgusting. Countless times, I have walked into a gender-neutral restroom on campus only to immediately walk out. It’s not a lot to ask for restrooms on campus to be clean. It’s important to remember that trans people are not the only ones using unisex restrooms: families and people with disabilities also rely on these bathrooms. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but unclean bathrooms can carry nasty diseases, including influenza, norovirus and salmonella. The gender-neutral restrooms tend to be much dirtier than the gendered ones, making them even less accessible.

Safety Concerns

In November of 2022, U police arrested a suspect who placed two cameras in all-gender restrooms in the Student Life Center. This person was not a U student and used a friend’s ID to gain access to the building. Incidents like this can make using a gender-neutral restroom feel even more daunting. Our campus has not made any changes to bathroom security in the four months since the incident. Another instance of cameras placed in a unisex bathroom occurred on March 22 in a Utah gymnasium.

The U’s inaction makes the already daunting task of finding a usable restroom even worse. Now, students not only have to find a unisex restroom and hope it’s clean but also worry about their safety. The U’s lack of response to the incident puts all students and faculty at risk. On top of creating cleaner unisex bathrooms, the U needs to ensure that these are truly safe spaces for students.

The U has made progress toward a more inclusive campus not only for trans and nonbinary people but people with disabilities, families and anyone else who needs a single-stall restroom. That being said, there is still a lot of work to do to make the gender-neutral restrooms on campus practical and usable for everyone. Currently, their implementation leaves a lot to be desired. I hope to see more progress made throughout the coming years. Nobody should have to go to a whole separate part of campus just to use the restroom they are most comfortable in.


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