UTSU report outlines university’s commitment to accessible, gender-neutral washrooms

University says Vice-Provost Students had “brief conversation” with UTSU on matter

UTSU report outlines university’s commitment to accessible, gender-neutral washrooms

The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s (UTSU) Vice-President Equity, Chimwemwe Alao, stated in his November 2017 report that the university has committed to making “all future buildings have ‘universal washrooms’ (washrooms that are accessible, and all-gendered in their design).”

Alao also reported that the university will establish “a committee in order to look at how current gendered washrooms can be retroactively fit to accommodate these universal washrooms.”

Althea Blackburn-Evans, Director of Media Relations at the university, confirmed that a meeting between the UTSU and the Office of the Vice-Provost Students involved a “brief conversation” on planning for more gender-neutral washrooms in the future.

In the report, Alao called the move toward universal washrooms “a huge victory,” and he said that the union is “waiting for the administration to allow us to share this information with our members.”

Blackburn-Evans said that the university’s Facilities & Services team have worked alongside the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office to include more gender-neutral washrooms and single-stall washrooms on campus, and to determine “gaps in washroom access.”

In addition, she explained that for several years now, Facilities & Services, in partnership with departments, have added many single-use bathrooms to buildings and will continue to do so.

The Centre for Women and Trans People has a map of all the public gender-neutral washrooms and single-stall washrooms available on campus.

Alao declined The Varsity’s request to comment further on this subject.

SCSU AGM tackles food equity, gender-inclusive washrooms

Promotion of AGM called into question, motion passed to improve student awareness of future meetings

SCSU AGM tackles food equity, gender-inclusive washrooms

The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) hosted their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 15. The meeting served as a platform to discuss the audited financial reports from the 2016–2017 academic year and motions presented by members. These motions included the promotion of future AGMs, support of the UTSC Food Equity campaign, and implementation of gender-inclusive washrooms in the Student Centre.

The meeting was called to order after quorum was reached.

SCSU President Sitharsana Srithas made the first motion to receive the 2016–2017 audited financial statements, provided with a review from an auditor from firm Yale and Partners LLP.

The floor opened to discussion, and many questioned the discontinued operation of KFC Express and Hero Burger in the Student Centre, concerned about the loss of student job opportunities that resulted when these companies were sold to private owners. Srithas addressed these worries by noting that the SCSU has tried to create more jobs for students in other divisions on campus, such as Rex’s Den.

After the audited financial statements were approved, with all voting in favour with the exception of two abstentions, the meeting unanimously voted in favor of appointing Yale and Partners LLP as external auditors for the 2017–2018 fiscal year.

The SCSU executives then presented their personal portfolios and all the work done by each member in the past year. After the executive report was presented, the floor was opened to discussion. Following a conversation on the purpose of the food bank and the progress of the Fight the Fees campaign, the report was approved.

The meeting then proceeded to the first agenda item: the motion to investigate the implementation of gender-inclusive washrooms in the Student Centre, which was moved by SCSU Vice-President Equity Nana Frimpong. According to Frimpong, the idea of the washrooms would be to have fully private single-stalled washrooms, which would only be brought into effect after consultation with trans and non-binary students.

Srithas said that not every Student Centre washroom would be made gender-inclusive, but there would be a gender-inclusive washroom on at least one floor so those not comfortable with the idea could still choose a gendered washroom. After the discussion, the floor was opened to voting, and the motion passed.

The final two motions were both moved and motivated by Katie Konstantopoulos, a student and volunteer at the food centre. While Konstantopoulos has never held an SCSU executive position, she has sat on the union’s board of directors and has frequently proposed amendments to the SCSU.

The first of Konstantopoulos’ motions addressed the lack of promotion surrounding this year’s AGM. She said that students around campus did not know of the event, and some of those who were aware of it did not know when or where it was being held.

The motion, which passed, stipulated that the SCSU would be expected to take measures to ensure that AGM promotion reached a wider berth of students in the future, including by looking into innovative forms of promotion like targeted, paid Facebook advertisements.

The third and final motion on the floor, the Motion for the Support of UTSC Food Equity and the Food Equity Campaign, resulted in an extensive discussion as students expressed enthusiasm for adding amendments to the motion.

Students proposed looking into the feasibility of developing gardens on campus as well as potentially providing cooking classes to increase food literacy.

The motion’s goal was to address the wide range of students at UTSC who cannot afford the school meal plan but do not have the time in their schedule to cook for themselves, as well as to address the 40 per cent increase in food bank usage in Scarborough reported by the Daily Bread.

Konstantopoulos created the UTSC Food Equity campaign in September following her initial involvement at the food centre, and she proposed the motion to get the SCSU involved because of the union’s platform and ability to address a larger range of students through their membership.

Konstantopoulos is pleased with the outcome of the meeting after both of her motions passed. The priority for her is to ensure that no students will “face food security alone.”