Pace Sounds Off on New All-Gender Bathrooms


Infiniti Styles Bowie

Pace students are mixed on the topic of all-gender bathrooms in residence halls.

Infiniti Styles Bowie, Features Writer

There is a boy in the girl’s bathroom. Or is there?

Well, technically yes.

This past summer, Pace did some tinkering and upgraded the living conditions of Martin and North Hall. Not only are the floors now co-ed, but so are the bathrooms.

So that explains the smell of Axe and Victoria’s Secret in the morning.

Stalls in the All-Gender bathrooms are the same as single gender bathrooms, with both genders able to use the stalls at the same time.

According to Alerie Tirsch, Director of Residential Life and Housing, the change was implemented to “better meet the needs” of students living on campus.

“Having all gender bathrooms gives us the flexibility to have mixed gender floors,” Tirsch said, “and gives the students living on those floors the opportunity to have a bathroom that everyone can use close to their bedrooms.”

Tirsch also said that students were made aware of the bathroom changes during room selections.

“…we made it clear to students that we would now be having All-Gender bathrooms in certain sections of the building, so they would be aware prior to selecting their space,” Tirsch said.

“Before we made the decision to have all gender bathrooms, we talked to the Residence Hall Association and asked their opinion. They were in support of this change so we moved forward with the project.”

However, Tirsch said no formal survey was given to garner feedback from students.

In turn, the new change came as a major shock to some students, including Fatima Majors.

Majors, a senior at Pace, resides on the second floor of Martin in the C-section. Right across from her room is an All-Gender bathroom. The senior said she was “surprised” when she first saw the mixed gender bathroom.

“When I first saw the unisex bathroom, I was surprised because I remember it being strictly a women’s bathroom,” Majors said.

Majors also expressed her discomfort with the bathroom change, noting that her parents felt equally uncomfortable.

“I was worried that I would feel uncomfortable showering and using the toilet while there could be a guy in the same bathroom,” the senior said. “My parents were even concerned about me using the unisex bathroom, even with lockable doors on the showers.”

In previous years at Pace, there were only shower curtains to ensure privacy. Now, all of the showers have doors with locks on them. Major believed this change was made to ward off possible sexual assault in the All-Gender bathrooms.

Locked showers are a new addition to both bathroom types, having been shower curtains before the implementation of the All-Gender bathrooms.

“Without the locks and the doors, I would feel very unsafe,” she said.

Majors has already encountered numerous boys in the bathroom, including when she wants to shower.

“One time I was in my towel going to take a shower and there was a group of guys in there,” Majors said. “When I saw the group of guys, I immediately looked at the floor. I was saying to myself, ‘Oh my God.’ One of the guys said, ‘You want to race to see who gets out of the shower first?’ He got in the shower next to mine and finished before me.”

The senior said she has contemplated using the women’s bathroom, but the distance would be inconvenient for her.

“On the first night I moved in, I thought about using the women’s bathroom down the hall, but I hate how it’s so far away from my door,” Majors said. “If anything, that’s worse than using the unisex bathroom because I have to go past the staircase and all the way down the hall in just my towel.”

Majors has since gotten used to using the unisex bathroom but does not recommend having them in residence halls.

“I don’t think unisex bathrooms in the residence halls are a good idea,” she said. “I adapted, sure, but there are some people who can never adapt to that change. The unisex bathrooms are more beneficial in other buildings such as the library, Miller, and Leinhard.”

Among the residents who are having a hard time adjusting to the All-Gender bathrooms is sophomore Camilla Sibiga. The sophomore said she “avoids it at all costs.”

“It makes me really uncomfortable,” the sophomore said. “I’m a huge advocate for the LGBTQ community, however, I don’t think a communal All-Gender bathroom is the best idea.”

Sibiga said personal hygiene and showering were among her main concerns about the unisex bathrooms.

“[The bathrooms] really just consist of guys that obviously don’t care about their hygiene and they make it unappealing to everyone else,” Sibiga said. “I avoid it literally at all costs and I’m on the complete opposite side from the girl’s bathroom.”

Overall, the sophomore said she is fine with unisex bathrooms in public spaces, but not for the residence halls.

“Gender-neutral bathrooms in public areas that have no shower and are just for using the bathroom are totally cool with me,” Sibiga said. “However, I just don’t feel comfortable showering with a guy next to me.”

Some male students, however, seem to be fine with the concept of the All-Gender bathrooms, including Jerameel Taylor. The sophomore lives on the third floor of Martin in the D-section, where the unisex bathroom is most convenient for him to use.

“I found [the bathrooms] kind of cool,” Taylor said. “I just appreciated the fact that [Pace] trusted us to be mature about the space.”

Taylor said he does not notice the girls in the bathroom, but understands if they feel uncomfortable with his presence.

“I don’t know any girls personally that are uncomfortable with the bathroom,” the sophomore said. “But I do understand why they would be because as a woman, they have to be protective of their bodies.”

Just like the single-gender bathrooms, All-Gender bathrooms share the same format, with both genders able to utilize the facilities together.

As for the concern of sexual assault, Taylor is certain that would not occur in the bathrooms.

“I don’t think that would happen,” he said. “I just see the bathroom as what it is, [which is] to do your business and leave.”

Although Taylor believed the All-Gender bathrooms are relatively safe, Nazir Boodhoo, a junior at Pace, expressed his concerns.

“The first thought I had when I saw the mixed bathrooms was if I was a parent and was dropping my daughter off here, I wouldn’t want her using it, ” Boodhoo said. “I wouldn’t even want her in this building.”

The junior said he knew male students were particularly excited to use the All-Gender bathrooms.

“The first thing guys are probably thinking about is the body parts they could see on a girl,” the junior said. “I had friends say they were excited to see some [expletive] on a girl and conversate with one while they’re in the bathroom.”

“Some guys are perverts,” he continued. “I wouldn’t blame a girl for not feeling safe.”

Despite these feelings, Boodhoo liked the idea of unisex bathrooms due to “overpopulation” of the dorms.

“I see why they made the All-Gender bathrooms because the lounges became triples and it’s all overpopulated,” Boodhoo said. “And the men’s bathrooms are dirty while the gender rooms are neater because girls are using it.”

Change can be good. Change can be bad. As for the All-Gender bathrooms, this is one change Pace students may just have to get used to.

“At first it was weird and uncomfortable,” Majors said, “but it’s like you have to adapt to it.”