Fight Restroom Inequality

Friday, October 21, 2016

When nature calls, you go. There are no gender lines, arbitrary rooms and designated stalls. When your bowels are moving, sweat is dripping and the tensions are tight as can be, regardless of what sign that bathroom has up, you go. 

Nature happened to call really strongly upon my friend one day while we were working through the late night in the SimLab Clinics and to her terror, the women’s restroom was undergoing a cleaning. So like any normal person with an exploding bladder, she went into the men’s.

Most people who come out of the bathroom appear relieved and happy. But what I noticed about my friend as she walked out of the lavatory was her look of concern. It could have just been one of those times when the release satisfaction just wasn’t there, but her look was more of an irked PhD candidate than an unsatisfied camper.

This is what she said.

“Did you know the men’s restroom is a mansion compared to ours?”

Now, this was a rant that I could never have foreseen.

Armed with a year of experience in the UCSF women’s restrooms, my friend began to draw out a layout of the women’s versus the men’s bathrooms. With exceptional detail, including the toilet and the flusher, she drew out what looked to be two different rooms. With three stalls squished next to each other, the women’s restroom was the size of a $1,300 room in Inner Sunset. On the other hand, with four stalls and three urinals, the men’s was the size of a whopping $2,100 studio.

I was so surprised I couldn’t help but think: How is this possible at a school that boasts more female than male students across the different programs?

To my understanding, the school’s buildings are relatively old — and designed by men who never imagined that women would have a strong presence in medical fields. Ergo, most male restrooms in the school are significantly larger than female restrooms.

Now, I’m not saying that I’ve looked into all the female restrooms, but according to my friends, it seems to be that you can only take 30 steps from the entrance to the last stall in the women’s while you can take almost 50 steps in the men’s. Those are a lot of step differences.

On the bright side…

The constructions for UCSF have been undergoing and the placements of bathrooms have yet to be carved into reality. New construction and major renovations will require gender-inclusive facilities on every floor, said Michael Bade, associate vice chancellor of Capital Programs & Campus Architect. UCSF is constructing many new buildings and all will comply with the guidelines. Personally, I hope the times will move towards abandoning simple toilets to bidets; water shooting, seat warming and hind cleaning. If not, can we at least expect our newer buildings’ bathrooms to have equal space?