Universal bathrooms on rise, cost efficient

On April 13, 2012

One of the many adjustments that new college students face is sharing a floor with people of the opposite gender; some people love it while others like their privacy.  Sharing an entire floor is one thing, but what about sharing a bathroom?

The University of New Hampshire, just like nearly every other college campus, has universal bathrooms in most of its dorms and facilities.  

Devine Hall, the Mini Dorms and even the ice hockey arena all have universal restroom options. In fact, all of the bathrooms in the Minis are unisex unless a resident assistant or hall director designates them as one gender.

Having universal bathrooms on a large campus serves a number of purposes. 

According to Gene Gargano, a housekeeping manager at UNH, building universal bathrooms in a new facility is more cost-effective than putting in a men's and a women's bathroom.

"As we get more modern this makes more sense with the cost of construction," Gargano said.

Outside of construction costs, universal bathrooms make it easy for transgender individuals to use a restroom without having to pick a male- or female-only restroom, Nyomi Guzman, a member of UNH Alliance, said.

Guzman stated that it is uncomfortable for those who don't identify with a specific sex to pick a gender-specific room. Universal bathrooms eliminate that discomfort.

"They take the pressure off of people," Guzman said.

While some students don't like the fact that someone of the opposite gender could be in the bathroom or shower stall next to them, others like the cleanliness and privacy of universal bathrooms.

"They're the best," sophomore Billy Lerner said. "They are the cleanest and least occupied."

Lerner said he prefers the universal bathroom on his floor to the men's room, and he doesn't mind being in the same bathroom as a woman. However, he can sometimes tell that women find it odd to be in the same room as a guy.

"It's not awkward for me," Lerner said. "But I can sense the awkwardness from some girls."   

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