Campus News

Wilder Basement to have All-Gender Bathroom

June 1, 2015

Kathleen Thornton

Photo credit: Janine Bentivegna

Construction will begin in the basement of Wilder Hall this summer for the addition of a single-occupancy, all-gender bathroom that is accessible according to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Wilder Hall has had all-gender bathrooms on the second, third, and fourth floors for more than a decade, but over the last few years, the students, faculty, and staff of the Student Union Board have expressed a need for such a bathroom in the basement.

Tina Zwegat, building representative for Wilder Hall and director of student activities, notes that one of the main reasons for constructing this bathroom is to enable students attending the ’Sco to access a suitable bathroom. Even when events occur in the ’Sco, Zwegat says, “we lock the stairwells to the rest of the building at midnight, so if someone needed a gender-neutral bathroom they couldn’t get one.”

Because Wilder houses such services as DeCafé and the Rathskeller, which are available to more than just the college community, it topped the list of buildings that the college is planning to update, says college architect Steve Varelmann.

Wilder Hall, constructed of sandstone in 1911 during Oberlin’s “stone age,” has undergone several voluntary improvements recently. The past two years have seen the addition of a new, more accessible elevator, as well as the reconstruction of the entrance ramps. The construction of an all-gender bathroom is the most recent addition. “This provides a good level of accessibility for the general public,” says Varelmann.

Both multiple-occupancy, gendered bathrooms will also undergo renovations that entail improvements in appliances, design, and wheelchair accessibility, resulting in more accessibility to and better design of three bathrooms in Wilder’s basement. “Even though we’re not required by law to do it, we will,” Zwegat says. “We’re really excited about it.”

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