Last fall, the oldest building here on the Cooper Union campus underwent a sudden renovation. A group of students, agitating for their transgender classmates, stripped the words “men” and “women” off the doors of the Foundation Building’s restrooms.
The act expressed years of pent-up frustration that here in lower Manhattan, at one of the most liberal colleges in the country, students who failed to conform to gender norms nevertheless risked harassment whenever they went to the bathroom.
But then, the unexpected happened. The signs were never replaced. And in an apparent first for a US college, the Cooper Union administration this month moved to remove the gender designations from all the bathrooms on campus by taking down the rest of the men’s and women’s signage from bathrooms.
To the students involved, it was victory. “A public facility shouldn’t have to ask if you’re a man or a woman,” said Rio Sofia, one of the students who put pressure on the administration. “It should just ask, do you need to pee or poop?” Read more