In Our November, 2017 Issue:

Metro State adds all-gender restrooms on St. Paul campus

by

All-​gender, single-​stall restrooms will soon be avail­able in every build­ing on the St. Paul cam­pus. New sig­nage will be installed on all restrooms. Promi­nently placed maps will help com­mu­nity mem­bers and vis­i­tors find their way on cam­pus. All part of an effort to pro­vide wel­com­ing facil­i­ties and use con­sis­tent, respect­ful ter­mi­nol­ogy and sym­bols across the university.

Christo­pher Maas, Direc­tor of Facil­i­ties, gives credit for the effort to Christa Spiel­man, for­merly the Women and LGBTQ Stu­dent Ser­vices Coor­di­na­tor for Metro State. “Really Christa was the one who brought this to our atten­tion. It caused us to step back and eval­u­ate our facil­i­ties from a broad per­spec­tive,” Maas said.

Spiel­man recently left the uni­ver­sity to become Com­mu­nity Rela­tions Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for PRIDE Insti­tute, a men­tal health ser­vices provider in Eden Prairie.

The year 2015 was big con­struc­tion year for us. We built the Stu­dent Cen­ter, the Park­ing Ramp and the Sci­ence Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter. We real­ized we were iden­ti­fy­ing restrooms on cam­pus in sev­eral dif­fer­ent, incon­sis­tent ways,” said Maas.

To eval­u­ate the use of signs and sym­bols on cam­pus, Maas sought input from across Metro State, includ­ing the Women’s and LGBTQ Stu­dent Resource Cen­ter, Cen­ter for Acces­si­bil­ity Resources, Mar­ket­ing, Stu­dent Life and Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment, Stu­dent Sen­ate, and the President’s Office.

The uni­ver­sity also hired Visual Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, a graphic and sign design con­sult­ing com­pany in St. Paul. “We’ve worked with them in the past. They did the Library sign for us. They’re very famil­iar with Min­nesota State cam­puses,” said Maas.

The con­sul­tants found that single-​stall restrooms on cam­pus had been labeled with a “con­fus­ing hybrid style pic­togram… not well received by the LGBTQ com­mu­nity or the pub­lic at-​large.”

Feed­back from the Metro State com­mu­nity was con­clu­sive too. The half-​man/​half-​woman pic­togram is offen­sive, unac­cept­able and should be replaced, Maas said. “We are going to go with ‘All-​Gender’ restroom and use inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized pic­tograms on the sign.”

The new signs declare “Any­one may use this restroom, regard­less of gen­der iden­tity or expres­sion.” They depict the image of a toi­let, and an updated “for­ward motion” wheel­chair symbol.

The consultant’s report rec­om­mended using the mov­ing wheel­chair to rep­re­sent acces­si­bil­ity, instead of the famil­iar “sta­tic ‘hand­i­capped’ pictogram.”

Head is for­ward to indi­cate for­ward motion of the per­son through space. Here the per­son is the ‘dri­ver’ or deci­sion maker about her mobil­ity,” reads the con­sul­tants’ report.

Maas esti­mated that the restrooms, sig­nage and maps will be installed on the St. Paul cam­pus within 6 months. “We’re start­ing with the Library because it’s one of our biggest public-​facing build­ings on cam­pus. It’s just a mat­ter of mod­i­fy­ing one wall to gain an all-​gender restroom,” he said.

We’re start­ing with St. Paul because it’s our own facil­ity. When you get into the leased build­ings, there are chal­lenges,” said Maas. Mid­way cam­pus is a leased facil­ity; the Man­age­ment Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter (MEC) is oper­ated by Min­neapo­lis Com­mu­nity and Tech­ni­cal Col­lege (MCTC) and the Law Enforce­ment and Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter (LEC­JEC) in Brook­lyn Park is main­tained by Hen­nepin Tech­ni­cal College.

Metro State is at the fore­front of the Min­nesota State sys­tem in pro­vid­ing wel­com­ing, inclu­sive facil­i­ties, Maas said.

The work to update cam­pus facil­i­ties and signs is far from over. Changes may also come from a work group assess­ing Metro State’s com­pli­ance with the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act (ADA), led by Chief Diver­sity Offi­cer Craig Mor­ris and Kristin Jorenby, Direc­tor of Acces­si­bil­ity Resources. The Mar­ket­ing office has kicked off a rebrand­ing study that may affect logos, fonts and signs too.

It’s a lim­ited scope project for now, and once [these other stud­ies] are done, we can take this to the next step,” said Maas.

I think it’s so impor­tant that stu­dents, staff, fac­ulty and exter­nal stake­hold­ers can come to Metro State and access the ser­vices and facil­i­ties they need. To be able to iden­tify where those ser­vices are on cam­pus and find them with ease,” said Maas.