UC Berkeley’s Recreational Sports Facility, or RSF, opened a gender-inclusive universal locker room Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., featuring 16 private changing rooms and seven private showers.
The locker room is about 4,500 square feet, making it the largest universal locker room in California. Along with the private changing rooms and showers, there are five private toilets, two of which are accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and one with an adult changing table.
Students have been pushing for a universal locker room for years, according to former ASUC president Will Morrow. When he was president, Morrow helped form the project proposal for the locker rooms to the campus Wellness Fund committee.
“Seeing this locker room, universally accessible to all, completely ADA-accessible, with the necessary private spaces (for those) who need them. … It’s incredible to see this vision of inclusivity become realized in this locker room today,” Morrow said.
The project was made possible through a capital projects proposal and was funded by the Wellness Fund, which is a student fee directed toward projects that improve student wellness on campus.
A large goal for the project was making the locker room feel open and spacious, according to principal architect Diana Hayton. Hayton works with ELS Architecture and Urban Design, the company that was contracted to build the locker rooms.
Another change was to the RSF’s entries into all three of the locker rooms — these were also renovated to be more open, with new turnstiles that do not have barriers.
“(The campus) decided to change the turnstiles,” Hayton said. “You would hit them right when you come in, and it’s like a barrier.”
According to Hayton, the design team was conscious of making the room feel more spacious because of its location in the RSF’s bottom floor, and this was achieved through having a higher and exposed ceiling, and by having light fixtures above the changing rooms that line the walls.
Students will temporarily have priority access to locker rentals, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff. Because of the locker room’s emphasis on personal privacy, those who use the locker room are also asked not to change their clothes in common areas, Ratliff said in an email.
Campus Access Services coordinator Benjamin Perez, who is a campus alumnus and uses a wheelchair, said he exercised at home while he was a student because he had “the idea that there was a certain type of body that went into locker rooms, and it was not mine.”
“The campus did a great job, in general. Honestly, I just like the relative openness of it. Locker rooms are usually dingy, (but) not intentionally,” Perez said. “I like that it’s open and bright.”