Moorpark College officials meet to discuss proposal of a new gender-neutral bathroom in the library

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Moorpark College officials meet to discuss proposal of a new gender-neutral bathroom in the library

Andrew Lopez listens attentively as Nick Sheppard shares his concerns about the lack of accessibility of the restrooms. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Andrew Lopez listens attentively as Nick Sheppard shares his concerns about the lack of accessibility of the restrooms. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Andrew Lopez listens attentively as Nick Sheppard shares his concerns about the lack of accessibility of the restrooms. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Andrew Lopez listens attentively as Nick Sheppard shares his concerns about the lack of accessibility of the restrooms. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

By Shariliz Poveda

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The President’s Council met on Tuesday to discuss the Associated Students of Moorpark College (ASMC) president’s idea to expand the accessibility of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus in order to provide an official proposal in a months time.

Currently, there are three gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, one in the Music Building, another in the Student Service Annex and a final one in the Child Development Center. Students have to walk across campus to reach the nearest restroom.

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ASMC President Andrew Lopez shares his proposal for the bathrooms while Spectrum club Ambassador Nick Sheppard listens attentively. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

“We can’t point to the ones we have and say ‘we don’t need more,’” ASMC President Andrew Lopez said.

Lopez proposed the idea of incorporating gender-neutral bathrooms on the second floor of the library building. The ASMC board hopes to later expand to the rest of campus.

The council agreed that action needed to be done, there were just a few obstacles.

Classified Senate President Gilbert Downs shared a concern whether or not the library staff had been contacted about this change.

“[The change] would be okay, [but the staff] don’t want to feel blindsided,” Downs said, referring to the library staff.

Downs also informed the council that there already is a gender-neutral bathroom in the library, which is open to students, located on the third floor by the dean’s office.

The council members expressed surprise at the mention of this restroom and expressed concern for why there isn’t more awareness of this restroom.

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President Council Members Amanuel Gebru, Nenagh Brow, and Gilbert Downs discuss the issues surrounding incorporating another restroom in the library. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Spectrum, the LGBTQ+ club on campus, was able to send a representative to the meeting, Nick Sheppard, who is a transgender student.

“I know this is a complicated issue,” Sheppard replied. “Fact is I wasn’t even aware there were [gender-neutral] bathrooms [in the library].”

Sheppard informed the council about the concerns the trans community has when using the restroom.

Students can risk outing themselves when using the restroom. There is a concern that they will be accused of being in the wrong place.

“[The students] might be perceived as [someone] who is not supposed to use that restroom,” Sheppard said. “It invites anxiety and fear into students.”

Academic Senate President Nenagh Brown responded immediately.

“If students aren’t feeling comfortable [on campus], it affects their learning,” Brown said.

Sheppard brought to attention a necessity of a bathroom in lower campus, near the Gym and the Academic Center. He explained that the closet one was in the Child Development Center. The Child Development Center keeps their restrooms locked as a form of security for the children there, preventing strangers from walking into the building.

“I have to out myself by buzzing in,” Sheppard said

The council agreed that a gender-neutral bathroom would be most beneficial in lower campus.

While incorporating gender-neutral bathrooms seems like a simple solution, there are many factors to take into consideration. Before taking the next step, the council needs to address all of those who will be affected by this change, not only the student body but also the employees and staff of the building in question.

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President Sanchez expresses the importance of consulting all the parties that will be affected with any changes to the restrooms in the buildings. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

“[We] want to feel we made our best effort to consult all constituents,” Moorpark College President Luis Sanchez said.

Regardless of what happens, the council wants what is best for the students. Brown said that this issue wasn’t one that needed a formal vote by the council.

“It’s a student matter,” Brown said, “It’s your choice, student choice.”

The council will have another meeting in about 30 days, where Lopez will be presenting an official proposal. If all goes well, the plan would most likely be implemented in the summer, according to President Sanchez.

Lopez will spend the next couple of days talking to the Library Learning and Resources Center’s department and various facilities managers to come up with the best solution for the library building proposal.

“Everyone wants what’s best [for the students],” Sheppard said after the meeting, “It’s just a matter of finding the best way.”

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