William Morrow served as the President of the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) in the 2016-2017 Academic Year. He played an exceptional role in leading the creation of a proposal for the Universal Locker Room Project, a large-scale collegiate universal locker room, the first of its kind in California.
William Morrow describes the Universal Locker Room Project as a combination of two things: years of advocacy from student leaders of two communities: the LGBTQ awareness community and the mental health awareness community. On top of this, it also involved the year-long effort of the student government to make a direction in guiding the Student Wellness organization to give priority to keep the student leadership effort going. This is surely something William describes as the power of teamwork and student effort.
The motivation behind pushing for a Universal Locker Room
Going back 5-10 years ago, students who identified as LGBTQ, students struggling with concerns on their body image, and students struggling with mental illnesses had been raising concerns to the university on how uncomfortable they felt being in the locker room at the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF). The traditional binary-gender locker room lacking in privacy was the impediment to students feeling that they could not utilize the RSF space. William shared that he had talked to some people from these communities, and he met some individuals who actively avoided going to the RSF simply because they did not feel comfortable to change and be who they were inside the Locker Room. Students with disabilities also faced difficulties accessing some of the facilities due to the initial design of the locker room space.
Accordingly, the RSF agreed that this was a problem that needed to be addressed. However, carrying out such a large-scale remodeling project would require an enormous amount of capital and the restrictions on such amounts put on by the UC system made this project seem almost impossible. In 2015, ASUC Senator Madison Golden proposed to the Senate on creating the Wellness and Recreation Fee Referendum to help address multiple health and wellness issues in order to improve the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of students on campus. The referendum successfully received a 60% “yes” vote from students which led the ASUC to propose to the RSF to use funds from the wellness referendum to fund the project. The team then took the initiative to propose to the Wellness Fee Advisory Committee and other campus administrators, finally receiving approval.
The success of the Universal Locker Room Project
The opening of the Universal Locker Room was a significant moment for William. Attending the opening was an honor, but knowing that there are more people now feeling that their identities are being acknowledged was something that made him feel even happier. This accomplishment also proved how powerful the student body can be. When students work together with a long-term vision, the students themselves become a powerful driving force. William believes that we, as a community, have now moved even closer towards acceptance of difference and diversity.
William Morrow, as a recent graduate of our university and a previous ASUC President, concluded with powerful advice: “no matter how big something might seem, have a vision, stick to the vision, and that vision will help you get big things done”.
This article was written by Jessie Mahadumrongkul.