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Student elections and gender neutral toilets

(19 Posts)
Northernsoullover Thu 05-Mar-20 14:06:50

My university which has so far escaped gender neutral toilets has its SU election coming up. All but one of the six candidates is promising gender neutral toilets. We also have shower facilities on campus.
Can they actually promise this? As with most universities we have a large number of ethnic minority students who would find this difficult let alone the general female population.
I know under the equality act they have to provide single sex spaces if not then it will involve a costly refit yes? To provide enclosed cubicles with separate wash facilities.
I was thinking of speaking to the SU about this but I fear I am a lone voice. Most of us don't have a problem with gender neutral if thats what people want to use but we still need the option of single sex facilities.
If anyone has any ideas on whether to approach them with my concerns and if so how?

OP’s posts: |
GodwinsRulebook Thu 05-Mar-20 15:11:12

Ask them if there's been and Equalities Impact Assessment on the plans to convert single-sex provision (required by law, I think but not sure ...) into mixed sex provision.

And mention that the effect on the protected characteristics of sex, religious belief, and disability might need to be considered ...

FFSFFSFFS Thu 05-Mar-20 15:57:38

Make sure to keep referring to them as Mixed Sex toilets!

Northernsoullover Thu 05-Mar-20 16:30:13

Thank you. If anyone else can give any more information (if needed) I would really appreciate it.

OP’s posts: |
GAHgamel Thu 05-Mar-20 16:58:40

Woman's Place UK has a bunch of stuff on its website about toilet provision, some of which will be relevant, and some of which only relates to certain sectors, so check carefully which bits apply.

I'd ask about what their concrete proposals are: are they going to be providing additional provision (how?) or just relabelling some/all of the existing ladies/gents or both? If just the ladies, how do they justify women having proportionately less provision than the men given they have a proportionately greater need? If they're converting the gents, have they factored in the cost of purchasing the additional sanitary bins required and the specialist service to empty them? Point out that it doesn't have a sanitary bin, it's not a gender neutral toilet it's just a gents cubicle.

Northernsoullover Thu 05-Mar-20 17:52:34

Thank you. I'm just wondering how they can promise this on their campaign posters? Would they have had to consult anyone first I wonder?

OP’s posts: |
GCAcademic Thu 05-Mar-20 17:56:02

Are they talking about the students union building or the university as a whole? If the latter, they cannot promise this, no.

Thelnebriati Thu 05-Mar-20 18:43:18

They can promise them in addition to single sex toilets, not instead of.
There are only 2 types of toilet which must by law be provided by every venue, they are;
- single occupancy, which are self contained cubicles used by one person at a time, and
- single sex.

Northernsoullover Thu 05-Mar-20 20:35:48

We don't really have an SU building. Its a teeny tiny part of campus. I assume (though one should never assume) that they mean the whole campus because the other changes they wish to make are university wide.

OP’s posts: |
GCAcademic Thu 05-Mar-20 20:44:41

Well, in that case they can lobby the university management, but they are not in a position to make promises. Otherwise the management would be compelled to implement any number of batshit promises that SU officer candidates (and let’s face it, these are not generally people with the best grasp on reality) choose to stick in their manifestos.

Kuponut Thu 05-Mar-20 20:48:58

Our candidates are busy promising nap facilities in the library! Like piss off home to the flat you live in on campus if you're tired FFS!

Northernsoullover Thu 05-Mar-20 22:18:42

kuponut if any of our woker than woke candidates offered a nap area I'd probably be tempted to vote for them blush. I don't live on campus though..if that excuses it.

OP’s posts: |
nauticant Thu 05-Mar-20 22:28:05

Well, in that case they can lobby the university management, but they are not in a position to make promises.

I came here to say exactly this. Find out who actually has authority to make these kind of changes, contact them, and ask them, in the light of the proposals to eliminate single sex provision, what kind of impact assessment in relation to the relevant protected characteristics they would anticipate making.

You can also look at the candidates and decide if engaging with them would likely to be worthwhile. My assumption would be not so much.

DJLippy Thu 05-Mar-20 22:29:52

Does the university have a Jewish, Isamic or Christian society? It might be good to look for allies if this is likely to impact them

GodwinsRulebook Fri 06-Mar-20 08:03:39

Make sure to keep referring to them as Mixed Sex toilets

This! It makes the point about just what's at stake very clearly.

Kuponut Fri 06-Mar-20 09:59:40

At least ours try to be woker than woke but lack any actual effort to do more than issue the odd "we are really disappointed" statement to any news on their website. Sums up our SU - shite on all fronts.

BickerinBrattle Fri 06-Mar-20 15:50:00

Also ask whoever would be the person to make the decision to convert the toilets if they’ve consulted their liability insurer, as there is clear evidence that mixed sex toilets increase the risk of assault for women and girls. In general, being aware of a risk and taking steps to increase rather than mitigate against that risk would increase their liability exposure in the event of an assault.

KittiesInsane Fri 06-Mar-20 15:55:08

Our candidates are busy promising nap facilities in the library!

DS was very taken with the nap pods at Manchester U when he looked round...
www.library.manchester.ac.uk/locations-and-opening-hours/learning-commons/zzz-zone/

RedToothBrush Fri 06-Mar-20 16:49:35

Does the university have a Jewish, Isamic or Christian society? It might be good to look for allies if this is likely to impact them

My former university was domininated by religious groups for union votes.

They frequently tried to get alcohol banned from the union and in part succeeded by sheer numbers.

Most students don't vote so motivating a vested interest group is a good move.

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