Response: not about all-gender washrooms

I am an alumna, class of 2005. I like to come visit the campus at least twice a year, mostly to immerse myself in the culture of learning and because a lot of good changes happened in my life during my time at UTM. There is a special place in my heart for this campus—despite the fact that I barely recognize it anymore.

With respect to the article about the washroom issue (“Including everyone is hard”, Jan. 12), I do not agree. The issue at hand is not about accommodating “the students who require all gender-washrooms”, but the enclosed space in which toilets are located. The current model of toilet facilities is not working anymore. Perhaps we should try to innovate the model.

The design of all-gender washrooms have become a growing architectural trend in several Western European countries. I am pleased to see that the “all-gender washrooms” are finding their place in local businesses such as movie theatres and in Toronto’s club district. As mentioned in the article, many small businesses have “all-gender washrooms”, and the reason that safety is not a concern in these toilet facilities has to do with the fact that coworkers and colleagues are not strangers.

Perhaps we need to dump the “washroom” model and replace it with an open-concept, walkthrough space in which toilets are situated in fully enclosed stalls—floor to ceiling. According to this model, accommodating everyone is easy, not hard. The walls that connect and create the space we call “washrooms” must be removed. Why do we need an enclosed space in which toilets and sinks are located when we can enclose them and connect them in a row?

The washroom in question is the one located in the Student Centre. Walk-through toilet facilities based on the floor-to-ceiling toilet stalls offer the following benefits:

Safety concerns are drastically reduced because users are only enclosed in the toilet stalls. Fully enclosed means 100% privacy.

The walkthrough model fits well architecturally with the building design as there are three more “walkthrough halls” connecting the Student Centre to the pub. The issue regarding access to the pub during afterhours is not an issue directly connected to toilet facilities. For example, this can be solved by opening up the wall with the sinks to make an L-shape design.

It will cost much less if we keep the toilets where they are, remove the partial stalls, and replace them with fully enclosed ones.

The sinks and mirror can either be replaced with mini-sinks placed inside of the stalls, or they can remain where they are. The latter adds another advantage as it opens up the possibility of more hand-washing among those entering or exiting the building.

This kind of toilet facility solves the issue of segregation and safety—all people have access to toilets in that part of the building.


Natalie Woloshyn



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