Female students in particular struggle with the concept of gender-neutral toilets. “Muslim women wearing headscarves, for example, don’t feel safe in the toilets because they might encounter men there”, Ayinla says.

In the summer of 2023, all-gender toilets were installed in eleven buildings across campus Woudestein. It was a simple transformation: the signs on the doors were replaced with ‘all gender’ stickers with images of urinals and/or toilets. In response to complaints, University Council members Nawin Ramcharan and Joseph Ayinla (both of the Liberi Erasmi party) submitted a twofold proposal.

From 28 to 14 toilets

Of the 159 toilets on campus Woudestein, 28 are all-gender. The University Council proposes reducing this to half that number. “This way, we can repurpose the other half as toilets for women again”, says Ramcharan.

The University Council’s proposal is based in part on a pilot study conducted by Utrecht University. The study found that many women are uncomfortable with all-gender toilets and often prefer toilets without urinals. “These findings are consistent with the complaints we’ve received from fellow students”, says Ramcharan.

Gender neutrale toiletten door Jowan de Haan

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Campus Woudestein to have all-gender toilets

Eleven buildings on campus Woudestein are to have all-gender toilets. No major…

Not without a fight

The majority of members decided to adopt the proposal, but this did not happen without a fight, says University Council member Cagla Altin (Erasmus Alliance). She voted against the proposal. “It took months for the proposal to be submitted,” she says. “I don’t think we should reduce the number of all-gender toilets at all. That decision could hurt non-binary and trans students and staff. I believe one has to think carefully about what the proposal does to this community.”


Besides a reduction, the proposal also argues for the toilets to be spread more widely. “On the third floor of the Mandeville building, for example, there are seven gender-neutral toilets, while there isn’t a single one on other floors”, Ayinla argues. For this building, the University Council recommends having three all-gender toilets: one each on the third, fourth and fifth floors. Altin: “I’m in favour of a better spread of the toilets, but reducing their number doesn’t solve the problem. It denies the need for gender-neutral toilets. This is a matter of great delicacy.”

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