Voyeurism in the All-Gender Restrooms

WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT HAS BEEN DONE ABOUT IT

Three incidents of possible voyeurism inside a couple of the all-gender restrooms on campus have reported.

Two of the reports date back to November, and one to January of this year. All reports were made to the safety and security department. Reports indicate that the perpetrators may have used cell phones to spy on people using the facilities.

SCC currently has four all-gender restrooms, along with two unisex restrooms in the library.

Back in 2016, there was another case of voyeurism on campus. In that instance, SCC’s Campus Security found enough evidence to expel the culprit.

According to Mariko Kakiuchi, SCC’s Title IX coordinator and director, a group consisting of representatives from Student Life, Facilities and Safety and Security came together at the end of this last fall quarter to discuss possible modifications to the restroom stalls in the all-gender restrooms.

The Facilities Department said they evaluated some options for modifying the partitions between the stalls. One plan was to install and update the dividers between stalls and to make these dividers low enough to help prevent more cases of voyeurism.

“What we’ve found is that hardware retrofits are generally (either) not one hundred percent effective or allow for complete isolation so that illicit or dangerous activities can occur undetected inside the stalls,” said Jason Francois, SCC’s director of facilities.

“Multi-stall all-gender restrooms are a growing trend, while industry best practices are still being developed. Many of the architects that I can access through state contracts simply have never dealt with the concept before so answers around ‘best approach’ are slow or unsatisfactory.

“Given what information we’ve found, specific decisions are pending,” he added.

Based on the current facilities, Director of Facilities Jason Francois believes that stall modifications may not be feasible in some locations.

Some potential solutions have been presented to Student Life, ASG and the executive team. “Once Facilities gets a stall count, those groups will determine which restrooms to move forward with,” Francois said. “I do not have a timeline on that, but would expect it to move quickly.”

Based on the current facilities, Francois said he believes that stall modifications may not be feasible in some locations and may require further remodeling to ensure privacy and to still meet the standards for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As for whether the all-gender restrooms will be removed, Francois said, “I see no desire from either ASG or college leadership to eliminate them at this time.”

SCC’s Director of Safety and Security Edwin Lucero said his department has responded by having their officers proactively patrol the all-gender restrooms in the PUB and the 1800 Building, the areas in question. They have also worked with the Facilities Department, which oversees custodial services, to help monitor the restrooms and make sure they get cleaned frequently.

There haven’t been any further reports made since January.

Rezina Habtemariam, director of Student Life, has been part of the decision making process regarding the all-gender restrooms all along. She presented a proposal to install the restrooms to the SCC council in the spring of 2016. Both social and financial motivations contributed to the decision to make the switch to all-gender restrooms in four of the campus’ already-established restrooms.

Habtemariam was unavailable for comment for this story.

Lucero said the best way to keep safe is awareness. While in the facilities, keep your backpack within your reach and beyond the reach of others, use hangers when possible, make sure the lighting is good and report any concerns.

“If you see any suspicious activities, let security know as soon as possible,” he said.

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