SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Main Building, the oldest building on the Wofford College campus, was recently covered in PRIDE colors for the first time in recognition of National Coming Out Day and LGBT History Month.
The building is lit to highlight various causes throughout the year, and the lighting was a student-led initiative through Campus Union. It coincided with the college recently designating 17 restrooms across campus as all-gender restrooms, which are single-user spaces that lock from the inside and are open to anyone. Each lockable space includes a toilet and sink.
“I think this is a great opportunity for students to be seen and feel comfortable in a space like Wofford where they may have felt excluded previously,” says Sera Guerry ’22, a religion major from Charleston, South Carolina.
Guerry, along with Isaiah Franco ’23, a Spanish major from Newtown, Pennsylvania, and Parke Faison ’22, a sociology and anthropology major from Atlanta, Georgia, are student workers in the college’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and they made contributions to support all-gender restrooms. Franco, a sophomore delegate in Campus Union, also submitted the resolution for the lighting of Main Building, and he worked closely with the college’s facilities department to coordinate the project.
“I think it is heartening to see this change made on campus, especially when Spartanburg's Upstate Pride hasn't happened this year,” says Franco, who said he gained a better understanding of the importance of allyship after a gender and sexuality humanities course last year. “I think this is just the beginning, though, and it motivates me to continue fighting for the rights of marginalized groups. Also, seeing something come to fruition like the lights is definitely motivation to keep going. I'd also like to say that I received a ton of help from the Campus Union assembly and Taylor Lawson (a senior sociology and anthropology major from West Columbia, South Carolina) especially.”
Taifha Alexander, assistant dean of students for diversity and leadership development, said increasing the number of all-gender restrooms on campus was a top priority of hers when she arrived at Wofford in January of this year. She soon met Dr. Dave Kusher, a biology professor, who was already working with different people on the issue.
“When the only available restroom areas are designated specifically for male or female users, individuals who do not identify as either are oftentimes humiliated, confused and may even put themselves in danger by visiting a restroom,” says Alexander. “Specifically, it can be confusing for individuals who identify as transgender, gender non-binary or gender-nonconforming to know which of the two available restroom options are best for them.”
The college’s recent actions can set it apart.
“Wofford College is establishing itself as a thought-leader in equity best practices to be more welcoming and inclusive of individuals within the LGBTQQIP2SA (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Two-Spirit, Asexual) community,” says Alexander.
Nadia Glover, coordinator of inclusive engagement, and Michael Webster, assistant professor of studio art, also supported all-gender restrooms. They developed a map identifying locations for the facilities.
“To ensure Wofford has an inclusive climate where all Terriers feel safe, visible and valued, initiatives like the Lights on Main and increasing the number of all-gender restrooms on campus contributes to the collective wellness of the college in a way that allows all of us to conquer and prevail,” says Alexander.