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OPINION: Men should not clean the women’s bathrooms, especially if people are inside

By Briana Keenan
News Editor

It’s 9:30 a.m. on the fifth floor of Wolfe. I just arrived back from the dining hall where I had breakfast after going to the gym. I get ready to shower before my 11 a.m. class, and hear some other girls come in and out of the bathroom. While I’m still in the shower, I hear the cleaning cart come in. 

I assumed that it was one of the few women on the ResEd cleaning staff who usually cleans the bathrooms. However, when I finished getting dressed and stepped out to go to my room, I noticed that a man was cleaning the toilets. 

Whoever this cleaning staff member was did not knock, announce himself or make any effort to check if anyone was inside the bathroom before entering.

I was shocked. Last semester, I never saw a man clean our bathrooms, and I was unsettled at the fact that he came in without ever announcing himself. 

I texted my community advisor, and they said that this would occur more frequently since ResEd hired new staff for the spring semester. They told me to let them know if anything happened that made me particularly uncomfortable. I thanked them for the information but still felt wary about what had just happened. 

This has happened several more times within the last week and a half; it has been almost a daily occurrence. 

I thought this was worth looking into for a possible news story, so I reached out to the College’s head media relations officer. He told me that what I’d experienced was not the policy and encouraged me to file a report with Title IX. 

My CA did not feel comfortable talking to me further about the situation, which I don’t blame them, since they are a paid employee of the College. Since this did not look like it was going to turn into a news story, I decided to write this opinion piece instead. 

This situation has left me unsure of what to do and from the people I have talked to, nobody has had the same thing happen to them. 

All of my friends who I have confided in about this respond with some sort of variation of “that’s creepy,” “men should definitely not be cleaning the women’s bathrooms” or “that has never happened to me before; a woman always cleans our bathroom.” 

When I was at the library this week, I noticed that the woman employee waited outside of the men’s room on the third floor to clean it since she knew people were inside. At the Student Center, the bathroom is frequently closed for cleaning. Why is this a different scenario here, especially in a dorm where students are living? 

Now, I plan my day around what time is best to shower so I can avoid being in there at the same time as the man who comes to clean. It has been an uncomfortable situation for me and it feels like nobody else has had it happen to them.

Part of me is nervous about filing Title IX. Would it make the situation better? 

I am left to believe that if I write about this and make it known to the public, maybe others will come forward and say that the same thing has happened to them. As a student journalist, I believe that I have a responsibility to shed light on campus situations like these that others may not know about. 

Maybe, it takes one voice to allow others to come forward, and that will make us more empowered to speak out and make a change.

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