To avoid potential violations of Title IX, the federal law regarding sexual misconduct, and to alleviate employee discomfort, the College has instituted a policy forbidding students from being in residence hall bathrooms while maintenance and custodial staff are working in them.
While this policy shift was not preceded by a Title IX-related incident, it was proposed at a Title IX seminar with the maintenance department last semester, according to Associate Director for Housing and Residential Life Lisa Train. At the workshop, several custodians mentioned they were “uncomfortable” with people coming into the bathroom while they were there “attempting to clean and make repairs,” Train said.
This was particularly an issue with female maintenance staff, Assistant Manager of Facility Services Lori Moore said.
“Sometimes when the women go into a men’s bathroom, as we’re cleaning, we have boys that come in and don’t seem to mind that we’re in there,” Moore said. “They’ll use the shower, use the toilets. It may make some of the younger custodians a little uncomfortable for that to happen.”
In some cases, it may be difficult to determine when custodial staff will be cleaning the bathrooms every day, Moore said. Instead, the policy proposes a general timeframe: custodial staff will be cleaning bathrooms in south-campus residence halls any time between 9:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. and north-campus residence hall bathrooms any time between noon and 3 p.m.
It is up to individual community advisors (CAs) and maintenance workers to relay more specific timeframes to hall residents. For example, Rachel Dragos ’16, head community advisor for north campus, knew what time maintenance workers usually cleaned the bathrooms in her building — typically between noon and 1 p.m. — and communicated this information to her residents.
Even if residents do not know what time they will be unable to use their hall’s bathroom, they will easily be able to tell, Train said. Maintenance workers now have signs that read “bathroom closed,” accompanied by rods that block students out of bathroom doorways, for when they are cleaning.
The administration has not yet shared the policy shift, with some CAs having told their residents and some not, Moore said.
“If the CAs would like us to be more specific, if they just go to the custodians that clean their floors, those custodians can give them a better timeframe,” Moore said.