UC Berkeley Students Paying For $2.7 Million Gender ‘Universal’ Locker Room Through Fee They Voted Into Effect

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

University of California at Berkeley students are willingly paying for a $2.7 million universal locker room, which opens Wednesday, through a mandatory wellness fee they voted to pass in 2015.

The 4,500-square-foot locker room is believed to be the first large-scale collegiate gender inclusive locker room in California, according to Berkeley News. It will have 400 lockers, 16 individual changing rooms, seven private showers, five private toilets and four shared sinks.

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The locker room is funded “entirely by students,” Berkeley News reported. “In a 2015 Wellness Referendum, the student body voted to impose an annual fee of $146 upon themselves — the fee contains a built-in escalator tied to inflation and is currently $160 — for 30 years.”

The locker room was initially called “gender inclusive” until Billy Curtis, director of Berkeley’s Gender Equity Resource Center and consultant for the project, suggested calling it a “universal” locker room.

“‘Universal’ is the term today,” Curtis said, Berkeley News reported. “It says everyone.” (RELATED:New York City Council Passes Bill Allowing Parents To Choose ‘X’ For Their Children’s Gender)

The Wellness Initiative Fee was first recommended in 2015 by students who believed the school needed a wider variety of health services. In the initiative, “one of the first requests to the resulting Wellness Fund was from Rec Sports, for a study to explore the size and scope of a third locker room for under-served populations,” according to Berkeley News.

Then-president of the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) William Morrow and then-Rec Sports associate director Trineice Durst led the creation of the locker room proposal, which was submitted to administrators and the Wellness Fee Advisory Committee, according to Berkeley News.

UC Berkeley’s chief financial officer provided an interest-free loan to the Recreational Sports Facility, the university’s largest fitness center, to fund the project. The loan will be paid back over 15 years through the Wellness Fund fees, Berkeley News reported.

The program passed in the school’s student government election with 58 percent of the vote, according to the Wellness Fund’s website.

The locker room will still have rooms for men and women, according to the Rec Sports page.

The fee is mandatory for students to pay. The Wellness Fee receives two-thirds of the funds, with one-third going toward student financial aid.

The fee supported a total of 18 proposed projects like “Decolonizing Wellness,” “Be Black, Be Well” and free menstrual products in the 2017-2018 school year. The total funding for the 18 projects listed for January 2018 was $661,404.80.

James R. Griffin, Inc. was the contractor, ELS Architecture and Urban Design was the architect, UC Berkeley Capital Projects was the project management and Chris Lochtefeld, James R. Griffin, Inc. was the on-site construction coordinator for the locker room project, according to Berkeley News.

UC Berkeley, Student Wellness Fee and Curtis did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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