Columbia allows students to vote on gender-neutral bathrooms

Columbia University students recently voted against a proposal that would make all restrooms on a dorm-floor “gender inclusive.”

Students living in at least five of the elite school’s residence halls voted floor-by-floor to determine whether their male- and female-designed restrooms would be made “gender inclusive,” a practice made possible under a new Columbia University Residence Life Policy.

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According to The Columbia Spectator, the new policy mandates that the implementation of gender-neutral bathrooms be decided upon by a “majority vote” among residents within at least five of the the university’s dorms.  

While the results of the voting are not public information, at least one floor in Columbia’s Broadway Dorm voted against the gender-neutral bathrooms.

Columbia University sophomore Tommy Song told Campus Reform that his floormates voted overwhelming in favor of keeping bathrooms gender-exclusive, saying he was “actually really surprised” because he thought “most people” would vote to make the facilities gender-neutral.

“For me I don't understand how somebody could possibly be offended by gender-neutral bathrooms,” Song remarked. “Well, maybe if you're CUCR [Columbia University College Republicans].”

[RELATED: Student say new all-gender restrooms not good enough]

Additionally, he expressed concern over the voting process, noting that while it’s true that students were required to attend the first Resident Advisor meeting of the year (where the voting occurred) some people “might not have shown up,” thereby unfairly skewing the results.

Meanwhile, students were not told they would have the opportunity to vote on the policy until they arrived at their first floor meeting.

Krish Bhatt, president of the Columbia Queer Alliance, slammed the new policy as one that privileges the voices of “cisgender” students.

“The voices of cisgender residents, who likely outnumber transgender or gender nonconforming students and are more or less unimpacted by the decision, are being centered [in this decision],” Bhatt told The Spectator, adding that trans-students are not properly represented under such a “democratic fallacy.”

[RELATED: UMass students hold ‘sh*t-in’ for gender-neutral restrooms]

“While I understand the intention of this decision…this rule reinforces a democratic fallacy, where those who would benefit from a decision to designate bathrooms as gender-inclusive are not necessarily represented or represented to the extent of their need,” Bhatt elaborated.

Campus Reform reached out to Columbia for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen