President Luis Sanchez awaits VCCCD Chancellor’s decision on gender-neutral bathroom proposal by ASMC and Spectrum Club


ASMC President Lopez reviews the results of the survey to Presidential Council members. He explained how it was conducted and disclosed the results. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

By Shariliz Poveda and Michelle De Leon

Plans to convert the restrooms on the second floor of the Academic Building into multi-stalled gender-neutral restrooms are on hold until President Sanchez hears back from VCCCD Chancellor Greg Gillespie.

The Associated Students of Moorpark College (ASMC) President presented an official proposal to the President’s Council, a group of Moorpark College board members who meet every semester to discuss the status of the college.

Last month, a proposition to incorporate gender-neutral bathrooms into the third floor of the library was introduced to the council members. After some discussion, the board agreed to send out ASMC President Andrew Lopez to reevaluate his plan after knowledge of an individual gender-neutral bathroom in the library was brought to light.

Lopez worked with Spectrum, the LGBTQ+ club on campus, to provide them with representation during the meetings.

At the moment, single-stall gender-neutral bathrooms are only located at the Child Development Center, the EATM building, the library, and the Music Building. The Child Development Center bathroom is the closest to the lower campus, but students need to be admitted into the building.

“Students have to out themselves to get into that bathroom,” Academic Senate President, Nenagh Brown reminded the board at the meeting.

The board had been informed of this concern by a transgender student in the previous meeting.

Lopez addressed the change in location from the previous proposal.

“Spectrum deduced that the [Academic Building] was the building that most inconvenienced students who preferred gender-neutral restrooms based on measuring how long it took members to walk from each building on campus to the nearest restroom,” Lopez said.

Prior to the meeting to discuss the new proposal Moorpark College President Sanchez requested that the Student Voice stepped out. He wanted to provide council members the opportunity to speak freely and off the record.

Academic Senate President Nenagh Brown gestures to the file of information from the survey while inquiring about some of the results. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Lopez brought copies of Spectrum’s survey and a sample of randomly selected responses from each option on the survey: very unacceptable, unacceptable, neutral on the issue, acceptable, very acceptable.

A spectrum board member approached Julie Campbell, a psychology professor with a background in research, to write an objective survey. Spectrum worked with professors to survey students in the Academic Center.

“There is a phenomenon called the wording effect with surveys where how you write a question can influence how somebody answers that don’t necessarily reflect how that person feels,” Campbell said. “We wanted to write a question in a way that did not suggest our angle.”

She expressed that with a survey balance of anonymity and efficiency that the situation required.

“I feel like with such a sensitive topic people often don’t want to get identified and we really wanted the truth, we really wanted to know how people felt,” Campbell said.

Over 50 percent of 1,000 results were positive or neutral about the subject.

Sanchez addressed the importance of the community to vocalize their concerns about the proposal.

President Sanchez addresses the concerns presented by the board and reminds them that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

“I want those to be able to express their point of view respectfully and to be regarded respectfully in return,” Sanchez said. “So there is room for robust dialogue in discussion around topics of controversy, there is no room for ad hominem attacks on the person expressing that viewpoint.”

Proposed ideas included changing the stall doors to remove gaps between the door and wall and removing urinals. The board expressed concerns that the multi-stall restrooms would cause privacy issues.

Brown stated that the Academic Senate would not be taking a stand on the bathroom proposal as it was a student matter.

“The most important thing is that we, as a faculty, have much more awareness of what is available and what is accessible [for students to use],” Brown said.

Gilbert Downs, classified senate, remarked that the senate as a whole had a concern over increased graffiti in the current gender-neutral bathrooms. Aside from this issue, they chose not to take a stand on the issue as they felt it is out of their jurisdiction.

Zachery Barclift, president of Moorpark College Veterans Alliance and the Inter-Club Counselor representative for Spectrum, attended the meeting to observe the public discussion. Toward the end of the meeting, Barclift was provided an opportunity to address the board.

The council looks towards Zachery Barclift, a spectrum board member, while he shares his thoughts on the proposal for the new bathrooms. Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

“This is an age where many people come out for the first time … So I hope the college will adopt [the gender-neutral bathroom] proposal,” Barclift said. “And in ten years time when every other college in this state has gender-neutral restrooms, Moorpark College can say, ‘Yeah we were one of the first.’”

According to Sanchez, a decision on the proposal will have to wait until the chancellor discusses it with his constituents to see the political climate of his board. If the chancellor accepts the proposal, Sanchez will make the final decision.