UMD student demands gender-neutral bathrooms, goes on hunger strike, school caves

Moses is the Minnesota's most prominent gender-neutral bathroom activist.
Moses is the Minnesota's most prominent gender-neutral bathroom activist.

You'd probably have a hard time finding anybody in the world more passionate about gender-neutral bathrooms than UMD student Blair Moses.

Last month, Moses sent a letter to UMD administration demanding that the school install more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. And he wasn't messing around -- if administration didn't acquiesce to his request, he threatened to go on a huger strike as of April 26.

Moses, a Black Panther supporter who says he doesn't believe in the U.S. Constitution, argues that gendered bathrooms are "oppressive" and a "problem." He supports empowering people with the freedom to heed nature's call without having to sort themselves into different rooms based on their genitalia, and was willing to starve himself toward that end.

April 26 came without any progress on the gender-neutral bathroom issue, and Moses followed through with his threat to go on a hunger strike. That evening, he posted a now-restricted YouTube video where he says he's "sweating" because he "hadn't eaten" all day. But he promised to forge ahead with the hunger strike nonetheless.

Then suddenly, the very next day, UMD Chancellor Lendley Black sent out a campus-wide e-mail announcing that the school would essentially cave in to Moses' demands. The e-mail promises two gender neutral bathrooms in all new campus buildings and the installation of two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's already-existing student center.

So did the school cave largely because they couldn't stand the thought of Moses enduring additional food-deprived, sweaty nights? UMD's Campus Reform blog reports that the chancellor's chief of staff, contacted after the campus-wide e-mail was sent, denied knowledge of Moses' hunger strike. When presented with evidence, the chief of staff acknowledged the strike but refused to offer further comment.

The sequence of events, however, suggests the timing of the chancellor's e-mail was no mere coincidence. Years into the future, when female UMD students enjoy the freedom to relieve themselves in the same room as their male colleagues, they'll have the brave efforts of Blair Moses to thank.

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