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Apr 20, 2015 07:14 PM EDT

Cal Poly Students Stage 'Shit-In,' Request More Gender Neutral Bathrooms


Students at California Polytechnic University staged a "shit-in" last week to raise awareness about the few gender neutral bathrooms the school has on campus, Campus Reform reported.

The Queer Student Union started a petition last Tuesday demanding that the university establish more all gender bathrooms. According to the student organization, Cal Poly only has five reasonably accessible, this leaves non-cisgender students with a small amount of options when it comes to using the bathroom. 

On April 14, the student group kicked off a three-day shit-in. During this time, members of Queer Student Union encouraged students to put themselves in the shoes of trans*/gender non-conforming   students and take the pledge to use only gender neutral bathrooms.

"When we're talking about inclusive practices, policies and facilities for transgender and a non-gender conforming student, one of the first things that come up is access to restrooms," Adam Serafin, club advisor to the Queer Student Union, told the school paper, Mustang News. "And what's behind that is access to a safe place use a restroom. Somewhere that is emotionally safe, but also physically safe for students."

Members of the student group also scheduled a demonstration in the school's University Union that involved a mock toilet and a large sign stating "We've Got Shit To Deal With," Campus Reform reported. Participants asked passerbys to sign the toilet in support of their cause.  A range of messages were written, including "Get your shit together, Cal Poly" and "Poop equality."

Organizers of the event told emphasized to peers that for trans*/gender non-conforming students, simply looking for or going into a bathroom can conjure a great amount of anxiety.

"Gendered bathrooms pose a threat to the emotional and physical well-being of this demographic, and often force awkward and uncomfortable encounters for non-cisgender identifying students," according to the petition.

A similar demonstration hosted by San Diego State University  last fall inspired the shit-in at Cal Poly, according to Matt Klepfer, co-president of Queer Student Union.

"The overall reception from the student body has been wonderful," Klepfer told Campus Reform. "We feel that we educated a lot of people on the issue of the lack of all gender restrooms on campus, and those who were aware of the issue were glad to see something was being done to address the issue."

However, some students questioned whether how effective the shit-in could be.

"I don't believe putting a fake toilet in the center of our quad is the best way for my peers to effectuate the change they're seeking," fourth-year student Domenic Hjerpe told Campus Reform. "For many students, myself included, it's hard to take something like a shit-in very seriously."

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