Campus Reform | Ivy League students push to 'liberate' bathrooms. Conservative students push back.

Ivy League students push to 'liberate' bathrooms. Conservative students push back.

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Sex-designation signs at restrooms across Princeton University were covered Monday with posters “liberating” them “from the gender binary.”

“This bathroom has been liberated from the gender binary,” the posters declared, according to The Daily Princetonian. Princeton spokesman Ben Chang told the Princetonian that the school does “not know the origin of the posters.”

Darleny Cepin, director of student life at Mathey College, one of Princeton’s residential colleges, told the Princetonian that “Princeton defines Gender Inclusive Bathrooms (also called Gender Neutral), as single occupancy, lockable bathrooms,” and that all other restrooms “have an assigned gender.” However, Cepin continued to say that students “are encouraged to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity and where they feel most comfortable.” Students are thus not required to use restrooms corresponding with their biological sex.

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The posters were “not a call for a policy change from the [university] administration, but rather a statement of fact,” Princeton graduate student Ariana Natalie Myers and undergraduate digital editor Katherine Stiefel wrote in an op-ed for The Princeton Progressive. “Princeton’s policy has been for years that campus community members may use whichever bathrooms they are most comfortable with, regardless of the individual’s gender designation by the state.”

Myers and Stiefel note that many students, including transgender students, are unaware of the policy due to the “persistence of signage” that “has led most to assume that gender segregation of bathrooms has continued.” The piece complained of “the often-hostile environment of a gendered bathroom” and the lack of tampons in men’s restrooms and claimed that restroom gender-distinction can “cause serious medical complications” for transgender students.

In a private Princeton Facebook group called Tiger Confessions, one anonymous observer noted that in one lecture hall, the women’s restroom bore a poster, but the men’s room did not, asking, “Is it just me, or is this sort of problematic and sexist? Why do men get their own bathroom, but not women?”

Akhil Rajasekar, founder and president of the school’s chapter of the conservative Federalist Society, discussed the postering incident with Campus Reform, emphasizing that his views are his alone and that he does not speak for the Federalist Society at large or in part.

“The people responsible for this undoubtedly believe their mission to liberate bathrooms rises to parity with the great liberation movements of our history,” he said. “The reality is, however, that they crusade for an absurd cause in a ridiculous way and display their juvenility, inconsiderately disrupting university life in the process. To them, I say: find a higher calling.”

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Campus Reform also spoke with Riley Heath, founder and president of the Princeton chapter of Turning Point USA. 

“While TPUSA at Princeton does not oppose anyone expressing their ‘gender identity’ in their own ways,” he wrote, “coming into a shared space and demanding that anyone be allowed to use any bathroom according to their ‘gender identity’ raises many concerns regarding comfort and safety.”

“We contend that the binary bathrooms should be protected on campus,” Heath concluded.

Follow the author of this article on Facebook: Matthew Penza and Twitter: @mpenza19