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Queer Student Union Revives Gender Neutral Bathroom Dilemma

The bathroom door on the third-floor of Thomas Hunter.
The bathroom door on the third-floor of Thomas Hunter.
Photo by Carol Bautista

For almost 11 years, Hunter students have advocated for all-gender bathroom access on campus and things may finally change, according to the Queer Student Union.

At the start of 2024 spring semester, e-board members of the Queer Student Union began to release the locations of the all-gender bathrooms as more students began questioning their existence. According to Codes & Modes, Hunter College only has two gender-neutral bathrooms, both located on the second floor of the Hunter North building.

The Union decided to speak with the Hunter Senate, in hopes, of adding more gender-neutral bathrooms.

Jennifer Gaboury, a Hunter professor who teaches a course on race and sex segregation in bathroom politics, said she has seen groups of students get interested in this topic every few years.

“This is about the 20th iteration that I’ve seen,” she said.

Since 2009, Gaboury has seen various cohorts of students trying to garner more attention from Hunter’s administration and support from the student body and staff. However, there was little progress made each year.

Members of the Queer Student Union plan to meet with Sarah Chinn, the chair of Hunter’s Governance Committee, and Gaboury, to discuss a new plan that will build additional all gender-neutral bathrooms in every building on campus.

Some e-board members of the Queer Student Union posing for a picture during their open house: Savleen Kaur, Litzy Antonio, Dylan Bhigroog, Daniela Urbano (left to right)
Photo Credits: @hunterqsu

In the past, a group of students was promised by former Hunter President Jennifer Raab that a task force would be created. But as these students started to graduate, they never got to see it come to fruition. In fact, the task force was never created, according to Gaboury.

Since the QSU was revived in the fall of 2023, the club welcomed more freshmen and sophomores students. As the new students wondered, again, why there were few gender-neutral bathrooms, the e-board decided to tackle this need again.

“Our first step is figuring out where they are [all gender bathrooms], making sure our club members know where they are… building that kind of network where everybody knows where to find one if they need one… is really important,” said Annabel Savarese, the secretary for QSU and a sophomore studying Psychology.

“If we can figure out where would be easiest to implement one… if there’s a few accessible ones in every building that would be fantastic.”

Litzy Antonio, the QSU president, lamented that there were only five bathrooms suited for all-gender students. Three of them are located in the Thomas Hunter building, one in TH105, 117A and another on the third floor; two in the North Hunter building, on the second floor outside of the auditorium.

Hunter College has a history of bathroom politics playing out in the open.

Back in 2016, articles from online sites like The Tab, The Fempire NYC, WordPress and Tumbler, posted stories about the implications of the newly named gender-neutral bathroom on the third floor of the Thomas Hunter building.

Some Hunter students have posted on Tumbler that they saw signs of the bathroom locations vandalized. Recently, some noticed its door has “women” written in black marker with the word scribbled out twice just below it, even though the restroom is gender-neutral.

Meanwhile, in an email, Chinn stated she was made aware of the situation by Gaboury and knew of the student’s concerns. She hopes the student-led effort continues, since they’re the ones being directly affected and it’ll create a “valuable opportunity” to teach the issue to the rest of the Hunter community.

The next step in the process should also include the participation of the Senate’s Master Plan Committee, Facilities and current Chief Operating Officer, Gustavo Ordoñez, to make everything possible, she said.

Chinn hopes the students will stay motivated.

“This will only happen with organization and activism…Students are going to have to make the issue visible in a way that it isn’t yet, as well as educate the community about the benefits of all-gender restrooms. It’s a challenging task, but one that’s worth undertaking.”

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