SGA senator leads bathroom initiative in fight for inclusiveness

Small signs, big steps

by Laura Wiersema, News Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Several buildings on the Simpson College campus now don signs reading “All-Gender Restroom.” Despite their small size, the process to install them was no small endeavor for senior sociology major Shawn Schossow.

Last year, Schossow ran for a senator seat in the Student Government Association, armed with his idea of creating a safer and more comfortable space for students who don’t identify with the gender binary.

“Before I ran and was elected to SGA, where I presented and passed this measure, I was planning on it being my first project to bring to SGA, whether I was elected or not, as a way to be more inclusive on this campus,” he said.

The project passed the SGA early in the spring 2016 semester, but several months passed and the signs were not up. Upon investigation, Schossow discovered the process had come to a standstill in the business office, and the signs had never been ordered.

A few hoops later, the signs were ordered and installed during the summer. This move toward inclusion comes two years after Simpson introduced gender-inclusive housing on campus, allowing any students to share a room regardless of gender identity.

“I think Simpson is in the process of trying to make sure that they are creating a safe space for everyone of all gender identities,” said Baker Rogers, assistant professor of sociology and social work. “From students to staff to faculty, there have been pushes to move toward a more diverse and inclusive campus.”

The bathroom initiative is just another step the Simpson community is making toward being a more inclusive and accepting place.

“There are more classes where this is brought up, and more professors are starting to ask gender pronouns at the beginning of classes,” Rogers said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

Despite the small advancements, Simpson still has a long way to go.

Rogers hopes one day the school’s bathrooms will be genderless. For now, Simpson will take the small strides.

“I am concerned with making this campus a more comfortable and inclusive space for those who face discrimination and oppression due to their sexuality, gender identification/expression, and/or sex,” Schossow said.