NYU Mobile, which features shuttle-tracking and dining hall menus, ushered in an all-gender bathroom finder on Dec. 7. By searching “gender” in the search bar or going to the dropdown maps feature and selecting “All-Gender Bathrooms,” users can easily find the locations of most gender neutral bathroom locations around campus.
Although the new feature boasts over 30 locations throughout Washington Square Park, Union Square and even Gramercy, executive director of NYU web services Jim Robertson anticipates that more existing locations will be added.
“The last time I looked, we have about 20,000 downloads of the app,” Robertson said. “It may take a while for people to notice this change, because it is most widely used at the beginning of the semester, when students come back to campus and look at where their classes are located.”
To create this new feature, Robertson worked on it with Gallatin senior Kira Prentice over the course of a few weeks. Prentice is delighted to see this feature develop from a list made by students into an official NYU Mobile update and is excited to see the map expand to the Brooklyn campus.
“Students started compiling a list of all-gender bathrooms on campus in 2012,” Prentice said. “The first map included just the Washington Square area, but we have since expanded the project to the Manhattan campus.”
Because NYU is such a large school, there is no uniform signage for all-gender bathrooms on the physical campus. To combat this, the app has a unified signage system that La Riviere said he hopes will make the search easier.
“Due to the nature of how large NYU is and how decentralized we are, even right here in the LGBTQ student center, we have restroom signs that are completely different from Bobst,” LaRiviere said. “However, in our app, each restroom is clearly labeled.”
Program administrator of the LGBTQ student center Lukas LaRiviere said the app’s new function is not only useful, but also a great way to promote correct identification terminology.
“I think using ‘all-gender restrooms’ is great language,” LaRiviere said. “We’re shifting away from ‘gender-neutral,’ because it is not necessarily the most correct term.”
Gallatin sophomore Leah Miller, who identifies as genderqueer, said creating an all-gender bathroom locator is a wonderful start, though she said there needs to be more bathroom locations available.
“The people behind the map have done so much work and advocated so hard and I find it inspiring that it got taken seriously enough to be included in something as official as an NYU app,” Miller said. “I think it’s important, moving forward, especially if the university moves ahead with its expansion plan, to make sure to include all-gender bathrooms everywhere.”
The idea for the update actually came from student feedback, and Robertson plans to continue being open to suggestions. This could include working with the LGBTQ community and listening to NYU students’ feedback.
“We’re absolutely open to the ideas that come forth from student groups and others at NYU and are interested to hear other ideas for the app and its functionality,” Robertson said.
Email Diamond Naga Siu at [email protected]