Students at Rotorua's largest tertiary institute have successfully petitioned to have more unisex toilets made available on campus.
The petition, run by Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic's LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer) group and Young Labour Rotorua, was launched earlier this year asking for more unisex toilets at the institute after a transgender student complained of being harassed in a female toilet.
The organisers gathered 826 signatures and met with the institute's interim chief executive, Dr Neil Barns, who committed to including unisex toilets in every new building on campus.
Young Labour Rotorua organiser and former student association president Amy Uluave said they saw the petition as a huge triumph for students."You often hear about petitions going around but nothing ever comes from them, so to have ours gain more than 800 signatures and actually see a change in an institute as big as Waiariki was a huge triumph for us.
"It goes to show we can make a difference and make our campus the best possible space for all students."
Ms Uluave said not all students were initially supportive of the petition, "but once they realised we were not petitioning to have all the toilets converted, most people only saw the positives".
Dr Barns said he had no issue backing the petition.
"The institute is about inclusion. The reality is we need to be able to cater for all our students and so if we are able to do something that will make everyone feel like they belong and are welcome at Waiariki, then we will endeavour to do so."
Dr Barns said by the same token, he did not expect every student to be comfortable using a unisex toilet but, for those who were, they would be available.
Ms Uluave said now her petition was finished, her next mission would be restoring student and staff representation on the institute's council.
Petition for unisex toilets at Waiariki:
* Launched in February
* Got 826 signatures
* Led by Waiariki's LGBTQ group and Young Labour Rotorua
* Promises to have unisex toilets in all new buildings
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