College campuses across the country are moving to be more inclusive by installing gender-neutral bathrooms and housing. As student body president, Joselin Padron Rasines (center) is pushing the University of Florida to be a leader in the movement. The number of gender-neutral bathrooms has grown in just the past few years in city-run facilities, workplaces and college campuses. More than 150 colleges already have gender-neutral bathrooms, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s LGBTQ organization The Stonewall Center, as they work to serve all individuals, regardless of gender identity and gender expression. We caught up with Joselin, who talked to us about her work to make UF more inclusive.
Name: Joselin Padron-Rasines
Campus: University of Florida
Major: Political Science and International Studies
Graduation Year: 2016
Student Population: 51,725
What problem did your project address?
We believe that all individuals at the University of Florida, regardless of their gender identity and/or expression, should have safe and easy access to restrooms. More than 150 institutions nation-wide have established All Gender restrooms, including University of North Florida and Florida International University here in Florida. It is essential for UF to be a leader and role model in establishing gender-neutral restrooms. This embracement of inclusion and diversity is vital if we want to be a top-ten institution. Our goal was to improve bathroom signage, thus the University replaced certain men’s, women’s and unisex designated single-use restroom signs with All Gender restroom signs.
How did you approach implementing your project?
I created a task force during summer of 9 students, who were tasked with researching all gender restrooms on university campuses and developing a centralized list of all single-use restrooms that can be converted into All Gender Restrooms on UF campus. After we compiled the research, the task force released a 19 page report with recommendations of what bathrooms on campus we could change and why this was important for UF. We brought that to the university administration.
How did it go? What were the results?
The meetings were positive! Student affairs administrators were on board from the beginning, especially those in Housing and Residence Education. We implemented a total of 56 All Gender single stall restrooms:
- 30 bathrooms in All General housing locations
- 7 bathrooms in our Student Union
- 19 bathrooms in general campus academic buildings
We still hope to implement more bathrooms but this was a great first phase implementation.
What advice would you give to other student body presidents looking to replicate your success?
- Research the importance of an inclusive campus. A university experience is really more than just what’s inside the class. And it is our duty to ensure that all students feel comfortable in the campus environment, which even includes a student’s bathroom experience.
- Create a task force that compiles information on All Gender restrooms and prepares a report that could be shown to administrators on the importance of all gender restrooms and their positive impact on enhancing an inclusive campus culture.
- Partner with housing and dining early on. They will help guide feasibility and can be advocates within your school’s administration.