It’s an initiative by the students on the faculty council. They felt the RUG could not stay behind in the national discussion concerning gender neutrality. ‘There are transgender people at this faculty. By making the restrooms gender neutral they won’t be forced to choose between going to the men’s or women’s restroom. If that makes people feel better, that’s a good thing’, says student council member Femke Salverda.
There is also a practical argument. The second floor only has a men’s restroom. Because many people are loath to take an extra set of stairs just to pee, this restroom is used by both men and women. On the first floor, students tend to disregard the gender signs as well.
The faculty board granted Salverda’s request and decided to make the first- and second-floor restrooms gender neutral. This means that, in addition to different signs, there are several standards the bathrooms have to meet. Each restroom needs to have a waste bin and a sufficient amount of wash basins.
Earlier, dean Lodi Nauta joked during a council meeting that the male half of the faculty will also need to change its behaviour: they should pee sitting down from now, rather than standing up. But how to get the men to actually do that, he didn’t know. Salverda chuckles. ‘Maybe we should put up an extra sign for them.’
Not everyone appears to be ready for the gender neutral revolution. ‘There are some employees who would like to keep the restrooms separate’, says faculty resources portfolio manager Marga Hids. They can go to the restrooms on the ground floor.