Rec center to renovate locker rooms to make them more inclusive
The UA Campus Recreation Center is working to renovate their locker rooms and create a specific locker room area for anyone that desires more privacy when they go to work out on campus.
“We wanted to make the locker rooms more inclusive, and more private for all participants,” said Michele Schwitzky, interim director of Campus Recreation.
Schwitzky said they will start renovations at the end of the coming spring semester and propose that the new locker room area be finished by fall of 2017.
“We want to make it accessible for people who have body image issues, moms who have a 3 year old son and do not feel comfortable taking her son into the women’s locker room,” Schwitzky said.
Although the locker rooms will be a gender-neutral area, that is not the sole purpose of the project, according to Melissa Vito, senior vice president for student affairs and enrollment management and senior vice provost for academic initiatives and student success.
Schwitzky said the locker room will have a specific area with private stalls that people can enter so they can maintain their privacy, but they will also still have a normal locker area for people who are not bothered by the current environment.
“I really don’t believe that bathrooms need to be separated based on gender. I think that is kind of ridiculous,” said Taylor Ducklow, an aquatics student coordinator at the Rec Center and a FORCE intern. “I get that having privacy is important, but you can have a non-gendered bathroom and still have private stalls.”
The Rec Center will update their current gender-specific areas but also redesign it to have private areas for anyone who feels uncomfortable being in such a setting.
The locker rooms haven’t been updated in over 25 years, according to Vito.
The two restrooms in the lobby that recently had showers added to them last spring are acting as temporary gender-neutral space for anyone who uses the Rec Center regularly and feels uncomfortable.
“We have heard on past surveys that there are some people who are not comfortable coming to the rec because of the locker room situation,” Schwitzky said. “Some students just don’t want to be undressing in front of other students.”
Schwitzky said they are setting up focus groups within the next couple weeks, where people will be able to see the plans and voice their opinions on the proposed idea. If interested, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want people to feel included,” Schwitzky said. “We want them to feel safe and welcome.”
Vito said they are using feedback obtained from students a couple of years ago to build a base for the focus groups they are holding now.
“Student input has been very critical in helping identify the issues and guide what we’re doing,” Vito said. “The upcoming focus groups are honoring our commitment to the students and the feedback we’ve gotten.”
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