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SGA approves potty proposal, Faculty Senate next in line

Submitted by Jennifer Ellis on April 15, 2011 – 2:05 pmNo Comment

The Student Government Association (SGA) voted unanimously in a meeting March 9, to pass a resolution that takes the first step in making UALR the first university in the state to have multi-stall unisex restrooms.

The resolution, titled SAGE (Safe, Accessible, and Gender Equitable) Bathroom Policy, advocates the restrooms on the second and third floors of Stabler Hall be converted to gender-neutral facilities, by way of a sign change. In the building currently, women’s restrooms are on even-numbered floors and men’s restrooms are on odd-numbered floors.

SAGE also mandates any newly constructed building include mandatory gender-neutral and family-friendly restrooms, and all single-stall restrooms currently on campus be changed to gender-neutral facilities.

In addition, the resolution supports that a task force be created by 2012 to review the Stabler Hall restrooms and strategize how to incorporate at least one unisex restroom in every building on UALR’s campuses by 2015. The resolution states that the task force should include at least one member each from the SGA, Faculty Senate, Disability Resource Center, the Alliance, Adult Student Advocacy Program, Gender Studies Department, DSC Fitness Center and Facilities Management.

Finally, the resolution suggests that by 2015, the task force should begin planning for a family-friendly locker room to be instituted by 2020.

The student senator who wrote and introduced the resolution, senior Spanish and international studies major Ginna Wallace, said she was “overjoyed that it passed.”

Although the resolution passed with overwhelming support, concerns expressed by member at large Aisha Siddiqui prompted amendments prior to voting on the resolution. The original draft of the resolution called for two additional restrooms in Stabler Hall to be converted to unisex facilities.

Wallace said she spent the week prior to the vote calling all the senators to get their feedback and that is why she originally asked for four of the restrooms in Stabler Hall to be gender-neutral, leaving two gender-specific facilities.

“I’m more than a little bummed about the concessions with Stabler Hall, honestly. However, I expected the proposal to meet with much more resistance than it was, so I still consider things a success overall … I feel so fulfilled, like, that I’ve done something positive for UALR and for people who don’t get to do something as easily as the rest of us who take it for granted,” Wallace said.

Wallace is the president of the Alliance, an LGBTQ and straight association, whose members work to support each other and equal rights. She set out to establish unisex restrooms on campus to help create a more inclusive environment where people with nontraditional gender identity or expression, and so parents and people with disabilities would have access to safe and welcoming restrooms.

The resolution will be introduced at an upcoming Faculty Senate meeting; the date is yet to be determined. If the Faculty Senate passes the resolution, it will require the approval of the Chancellor to be enacted.

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