Chrisse Martha B. Gillesania | News Writer
SILLIMAN UNIVERSITY (SU) Dean of Students Edna Gladys Calingacion affirmed her support for the conversion of some comfort rooms (CRs) in the campus into gender-inclusive ones during an interview with the Weekly Sillimanian (tWS) last Aug. 30.
This was after Illuminates of the Spectra (ISPEC), SU’s first recognized non-profit LGBTQ+ Organization, submitted to Calingacion a proposal to convert CRs in the key areas of SU into gender-inclusive ones.
The conversion means changing the “Male” or “Female” signs on some of the CR doors into “All Person Restroom,” “All-Gender Restroom” and “Inclusive” signs.
ISPEC’s advocacy is also sup- ported by the Student Organizations and Activities Division (SOAD) Head Abe Cadeliña.
As of press time, Calingacion said the Office of Student Affairs and SOAD are yet to cooperate with ISPEC in submitting a proposal letter to SU President Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann for the conversion of the CRs.
“[The conversion of CRs into gender-inclusive ones] is really informative in terms of sending a message that we have some facilities in the university that would respond to the needs of all [genders],” said Calingacion.
Calingacion added that be- cause SU has recognized ISPEC, then SU should also be sensitive to the needs of the organization’s members.
Cory Gunn, a transman ISPEC member who co-authored the proposal letter, said he decided to propose this idea because he had difficulties in finding a CR especially after his Physical Education class.
“It’s not comfortable [to be in] the women’s room obviously because I’m not a woman, and it’s uncomfortable in the men’s room because I don’t look like a man. So I was like, why don’t we just have gender-neutral stuff here?” Gunn shared.
In their proposal letter sent to Calingacion, ISPEC referred to the SU Code of Christian Collegiality which states, “Everyone must respect and be tolerant of the religion, ethnicity, opinion, and gender orientation of the other members of the university.”
In line with this, the proposal letter stated that “having safe spaces for these individuals to access bathroom facilities that are for public use and health on campus is a step that the university can take toward full inclusion of these communities” and that this can be achieved through the creation of gender-inclusive CRs.
ISPEC has proposed that the following CRs be converted: all of the CRs in Oriental Hall (OH) and Magdamo Hall; first floor CRs of Uytengsu Computer Studies, Science Complex, Ausejo Hall and College of Business Administration Building; second floor CRs of SU Main Library; CRs at Ethel Chapman Hall; both male and female CRs in front of the faculty lounge at McKinley Hall; one of the female changing rooms in either the SU gym or pool; and the University Clinic’s CR.
Meanwhile, Calingacion is confident that the SU administration will also support this cause, since there is already a gender-inclusive CR in the second floor of the Leopoldo T. Ruiz Ad- ministration Hall.
Calingacion also said the conversion of the OH CR can be achieved within the school year.
ISPEC Council Member Shamah Bulangis said the purpose of this is not only to change the CR itself, but also to change the mind- sets of everyone and introduce the idea of gender-inclusive CRs.
The proposal letter emphasized that creating gender-inclusive CRs can benefit not only the LGBTQ+ community but also parents, guardians, caregivers or attendants with small children that are of different genders than them.
Moreover, the said document also cited Commission on Higher Education Memorandum No. 1, Series of 2015 which calls for high- er-education institutions like SU to “ensure that education institutions implement a capacity building program on gender, peace,
and human rights education for their officials, faculty and non-teaching staff and personnel, promote partnerships between and among players of the education sector.”
It also cited Republic Act 9710 Chapter VI Section 36, which direct universities to “adopt gender mainstreaming as a strategy to promote women’s human rights and eliminate gender discrimination” and the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in Dumaguete City which “[encourages] institutions within the city to mainstream gender inclusive structures.”
However, an anonymous female senior student from the College of Education said, although it is fine to have CRs for all genders, she thinks a possible scenario wherein a boy is peeing and a girl is fixing herself in the mirror at the same time can be a bit awkward.
A male faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences who also wanted to be anonymous, said the conversion of some CRs to gender-inclusive ones may cause some “bastos” (perverted) men to take advantage of women users.
Gunn, on the other hand, stressed that not all of SU’s CRs will be converted into all-gender inclusive ones, thus giving the students or faculty the option to use them or not.
“For people [who] don’t want to use gender-neutral bathrooms, there [are] still options like women’s rooms and men’s rooms. So if you don’t want to use [gender-inclusive CRs], just don’t,” Gunn said.