By Konstantin Kirilov
— Since Tuesday, February 23, AUC students have had the option to cast their vote on the possible introduction of gender-neutral restrooms in the Academic Building. The online voting was initiated by the Student Council, after several members of the student body approached them with concerns over the inclusivity of the available facilities.
As the Academic Building only has restrooms labeled ‘Male’ and ‘Female’, a number of students contacted the Student Council to voice their concern over the near-daily physical and psychological discomfort produced by the fact. Student Council Co-chair Tanushree Kaushal was eager to find a solution to the issue, and after discussions with the other council members, an initial proposal was taken to AUC’s management, where it was met with approval by Managing Director Belinda Stratton.
To get an idea of the student body’s response, the Student Council posted a poll in one of the largest AUC groups on Facebook on February 20, asking the question “Would you support the introduction of gender-neutral toilets?”. As of the time of publication of this article, 238 people had expressed support for the idea, 83 had no opinion one way or the other, and 22 had voted against.
Shortly after the Facebook poll was posted, a discussion began in the comment section on the exact details behind the proposal. Some students voiced their concerns that all restrooms in the Academic Building would be made gender-neutral, which forced the Student Council to clarify the specifics. Under the new arrangement, the restrooms on the second floor would be gender-neutral, while the ones on the first and third floors would remain gendered.
With the above encouraging results in hand, the Student Council proceeded to launch a Google Form, where each AUC student can anonymously vote, and leave an optional comment as well. The poll will be open until midnight on Sunday, February 28, with the results being announced on the next day. After that, a longer and more formal proposal will be drafted by the Student Council, and together with the polling data it will be delivered to the AUC management for a final decision.
According to Kaushal, the process should be a relatively straight-forward one, especially if the proposal can be submitted in time for one of the monthly Management Team meetings. “Ideally, we would want a result by the first week of March,” she added. “The signs on the doors are just paper stickers, so it should be quick and easy, and at almost no cost”.
This latest endeavour comes just after a new 200-level interdisciplinary module called ‘Gender & Sexuality’ was confirmed for the 2016-17 academic year. When asked about the significance of these events, Kaushal responded in an optimistic manner. “Curriculum-wise a lot is happening, the interdisciplinary gender course, there is a new race theory course being discussed as well […] so hopefully this is all a step in the right direction”, she explained.