Foreign territory

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By Maurice Cacho

Admin claims womens’ bathroom gets too busy, men lose only restroom floor.

Although Rob Denning had to go, he didn’t know where to go.

The second-year biology student was going to the same men’s bathroom he’d been using on the fifth floor of the Sally Horsfall Eaton building for a year. Denning would always go through the door on the left. But with his foot poised to step inside, he realized the outline of a woman was now on the gender sign.

To find relief, he had to climb up two flights of stairs and walk down a hallway to reach the only men’s washroom nearby — on the sixth floor.

Officials say the men’s bathroom on floor five of the building has been re-assigned for female use because there was high demand for another bathroom, but women using the bathroom say there was never an issue.

Ian Hamilton, director of campus planning and facilities, said there was “tremendous” demand for an additional women’s bathroom.

“In desperation, we’ve even observed women using the men’s bathroom,” he said.

But second-year gerontology student Melissa Rocha said there’s never been a problem.

“I can’t see why they did this,” she said.

Many others using the bathroom agreed.

Benjamin Isaac, program director at the School of Health Services Management, said he was left in the dark about the washroom change on the floor he works on.

“There was no communication about it, and I think it was very inappropriate for (campus) planning to make changes on this floor without any communication or consultation,” he said.

“There was no need to do that. The same as men can go up to the sixth floor, if women need additional space, they could go up.”

While Isaac admits that concerns with the bathroom were brought up shortly after the building opened in 2002, the issue was left alone with no resolution.

“I don’t think it’s fair to make guys go upstairs,” said Ada Peng, a second-year activity co-ordination studies student.

“I think it’s better to have them both on the same floor,” said Peng, adding that she’s never seen lineups.

The decision to re-assign the bathroom was made “in consultation with academic leadership” since 2002, Hamilton said, but wouldn’t give any details.

A look inside a nearby classroom shows that women outnumbered male students in some classes held on the floor. Only a few men sat in the back row of a packed class. Nursing and midwifery courses are also held on the fifth floor. Denning, however, is not impressed with having to walk upstairs.

“I’m all for equality,” he said, “but this has gone too far.”

“Walking upstairs was uncomfortable for me because I was in such dire need,” said Scott Robertson, another second-year biology student.

Hamilton wouldn’t say exactly how much the bathroom crossover is going to cost, but estimates it will be minimal.

The remaining urinals in the bathroom will be replaced with woodwork, according to Hamilton.

 

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