Students at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst are staging a week-long “shit-in,” occupying restrooms in an administration building to demand more gender-neutral facilities.
The “Shit-In at Whitmore” demonstration began Monday morning at the Whitmore Administration building (which the activists have nicknamed “Queermore”), and organizers intend to have students continue occupying stalls in the building’s male and female restrooms until their demands are met, though the Facebook event specifies a Friday afternoon ending.
Gender Liberation UMass (GLU), a student group at UMass, is responsible for organizing the event, and provides an online sign-up form for supporters to stake out specific times and locations, giving them the option of stating whether they prefer to be alone in a stall or to share one with “other sitters.”
The goal of the event is to convince college administrators to build more gender-neutral bathrooms, a gesture of inclusivity to students who identify as transgendered.
I use the word "more" because college officials pointed out to Campus Reform that the university already has “200 gender-inclusive, single-user restrooms on campus” and the school remains committed to “expanding the availability of gender-neutral restrooms.”
That sounds fairly reasonable, no? So what's the problem?
It seems (more) gender-neutral bathrooms are not the only motive of the “shit-in.” Leaders of the group explained that they are seeking “advancement of medically and socially competent in-house transgender health services at the University Health Services center,” as well as the “hiring of a professor by the WGSS [Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department] who is an expert in the field of critical transmisogyny....”
You got all that?
Now, you can call me a hippie, but I have no problem with gender-neutral bathrooms. I spent time in Belgium not long ago and used unisex bathrooms the entire time. I found them to work pretty much the same as other bathrooms.
What does get in my craw is this trend of students making, forgive me, absurd demands of academic institutions and using childish stunts to get their way.
Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but it seems entirely reasonable to tell students who don’t like a given policy to find a school that might better accommodate their needs. My hunch is that many college leaders would love nothing more than to do this, but they lack the courage of their convictions.
Would a college be out of line to expel students engaging in shit-ins? Is the fact that we’re even asking such a question a sign of the sad state of our culture?
Jon Miltimore is senior editor of Intellectual Takeout. Follow him on Facebook.