Students hold ‘shit-in’ for gender neutral bathrooms, tell peers to check ‘potty privilege’
Students at California Polytechnic University recently held a “shit-in” to teach their peers about gender neutral bathrooms
Last Tuesday, members of Cal Poly’s Queer Student Union began circulating a petition requesting that the university add “Gender Diversity” signs to existing “all-gender bathrooms” on campus. Tuesday also kicked off the group’s three-day “shit-in” during which students were encouraged to only use gender neutral bathrooms on campus.
“Get your shit together, Cal Poly.”
“Put yourself in the shoes of a trans*/gender non-conforming student and take the pledge to use only all gender bathrooms,” states the group’s Facebook page.
According to the petition, the public university in San Luis Obispo, Calif. currently has seventeen all-gender bathrooms, but only five are “reasonably accessible, leaving non-cisgender students with a paltry amount of options when it comes to using the bathroom.”
“When we’re talking about inclusive practices, policies and facilities for transgender and non-gender-conforming students, one of the first things that comes up is access to restrooms,” QSU’s club adviser Adam Serafin told Cal Poly’s Mustang News. “And what’s behind that is access to a safe place to use a restroom. Somewhere that is emotionally safe, but also physically safe for students.”
In addition to encouraging students to sign their petition, QSU members constructed a mock toilet in the school’s University Union Thursday that was accompanied by a large sign stating “we’ve got shit to deal with.” Passersby who were asked to sign the toilet in support of all-gender bathrooms wrote a range of messages including, but not limited to: “Get your shit together, Cal Poly” and “Poop equality.”
Event organizers advised non-transgender students to “check [their] potty privilege” and carried around signs that declared “going to the bathroom shouldn’t be a source of anxiety.”
“Gendered bathrooms pose a threat to the emotional and physical well-being of this demographic, and often force awkward and uncomfortable encounters for non-cisgender identifying students,” the group’s petition explained.
Despite the seventeen all-gender bathrooms that currently exist on Cal Poly’s campus, flyers passed around during the shit-in called for the creation of new all-gender restrooms “in buildings that currently lack existing facilities.” QSU and its supporters also demanded that the university convert all single-stall gendered bathrooms into gender-neutral ones.
QSU co-president Matt Klepfer credited a shit-in hosted by San Diego State University students last fall for inspiring the demonstration at Cal Poly.
“The overall reception from the student body has been wonderful,” Klepfer told Campus Reform. “We feel that we educated a lot of people on the issue of the lack of all gender restrooms on campus, and those who were aware of the issue were glad to see something was being done to address the issue.
Domenic Hjerpe, a senior at Cal Poly, noticed the shit-in while passing through campus Thursday and questioned how effective the group’s demonstration would be.
“I don’t believe putting a fake toilet in the center of our quad is the best way for my peers to effectuate the change they’re seeking,” Hjerpe told Campus Reform, adding that “for many students, myself included, it’s hard to take something like a “shit-in” very seriously.”
A campus climate survey administered to Cal Poly’s student body in the fall found that roughly 80 percent of students felt “comfortable” or “very comfortable” on campus.
“Cal Poly’s campus is already pretty extremely inclusive,” Hjerpe said.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @gabriellahope_