The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 11 1994 -5
Mason Hail restrooms home to sexual activities
Custodians, administrators, police officers debate
effects of incidents on University community
Continued from page 1
arrests were made in 1993 for crimi-
nal sexual conduct (CSC). In 1992,
there was only one case of third-degree
CSC involving two males. Thepunish-
ment for this crime varies depending
on the severity of the case.
"It would be disorderly if you are
having sex in public," Skowron ex-
plained. "(Trespassing) would be a
*charge that we would look at whether
or not it fulfilled what we call the
elements of that particular crime."
Smiley said that if someone had
exchanged money for sex in the
restrooms, it would beconsideredpros-
titution, which is a misdemeanor pun-
ishable by 90 days in jail and/or a $100
The primary philosophy behind why
Omen use public restrooms for this activ-
ity, as explained by Jim Toy, the co-
coordinator of the Lesbian, Gay Male,
Bi-Sexual Programs Office
(LGMBiPO), is that society does not
accept all aspects of homosexuality,
including sex, so men are forced into
Toy also gave many other reasons
why men use public restrooms for this
"You want an accessible space to
goto," Toy explained. "If youare man-
hunting forothermen, whatmoreobvi-
ous place than a men's bathroom?"
Toy suggested that some of the men
who use the restrooms for this pur-
pose do so for privacy from their
Toy added that some men go there
because they may be living with a
"straight" roommate while at the same
time they are still "in the closet." Or
that it could be a man's first time ex-
perimenting and the restrooms offer a
LSA senior Eyal Kedar, who wit-
nessed an incident in the Mason Hall
men's restroom, said he opposes all
public displays of affection but un-
derstands why some men choose to
have sex in public restrooms rather
than in their homes.
"There's the safety of a public
place," he said. "It's dangerous to go
home with someone you don't know."
Toy agrees with the safety aspect of
the public restrooms, citing many inci-
dents where males were sexually as-
saulted by other males whom they met
in bars and later went home with.
"Matt," who spoke on the condition
of anonymity, admits to having sex in
campus restrooms. Matt, 22, is atrans-
fer senior in LSA. Matt said he found
out aboutthe restroom activity through
the writing on the wall.
"I transferred here myjunioryear,"
Matt said. "I learned of the activity
early on when I first came to Michi-
Matt said he is not "out" to his
* friends at the University, so he prefers
the semi-private restrooms over pick-
ing up men at gay bars.
"The University does not provide
the gay community here with a safe
enough environment," Matt said,
"where we would feel comfortable
meeting otherpeoplepublicly in hopes
of forming long-term relationships. So
for right now, the restrooms are fine
Chuan Guo Wang, a second-year
graduate student who works in the sta-
tistics department on the first floor of
Mason Hall, said, "That comes totally
"I didn't know. I would be more
cautious not to touch anything," Wang
Wang added that he has seen vulgar
and explicit writing on the walls, but
0 could not imagine that it was true.
Wang is among many people who
have heard about the rumors but did not
know if they were true.
LSA junior Robert Jasak has also
heard the rumors.
"It's gross," he said. "If it's in all
the bathrooms, what the hell am I
supposed to do at 3 a.m. in the morn-
ing if I have to go to the bathroom?"
Jasak added that he would now avoid
them at all costs.
Concerned about their health
safety, Mason and Angell Hall custo-
dians filed a grievance with the Uni-
versity in February objecting to what
they called "unsanitary conditions."
None of the custodians would
speak publicly about the grievance,
but Robert Mann, who is the Mason
Hall building services supervisor, said
the University is looking into the situ-
Many of the custodians complain
about having to clean up the bodily
fluids that are often left behind on the
stall doors, walls and floor.
In response to the custodians'
grievance, Mann organized a com-
mittee of 12 people to investigate and
brainstorm possible solutions to the
problem. Toy, DPS Crime Preven-
tion Coordinator Sgt. Dave Betts,
Mike Hanna of the University's Oc-
cupational Safety and Environmental
Health (OSEH) office, LSA building
administrators, a custodian and oth-
ers make up the committee.
Betts, who has had to clear out the
Mason Hall restrooms when DPS re-
ceived a complaint, agreed with the
custodians about the restroom activity.
"It'sjustacontinual nuisance," Betts
said. "One guy opened and looked at
the stall and there was some enema
packages laying on the floor. As a
student or staff person here you don't
want to go behind that, nobody should
have to go behind that."
Walter Harrison, vice president for
University relations, said the Univer-
sityis sympathetic to the custodians'
"We must consider what the jani-
tors are saying because they are the
ones who have todeal with iton adaily
basis," he said.
But the custodians and adminis-
trators are not the only ones con-
cerned about this activity. The em-
ployees in Angell Hall are also wor-
"The most recent correspondence
I've reviewed," explained University
Regent Deane Baker (R-Ann Arbor),
"(states that) many of the people who
HIV and HBV viruses in the United
Considering that the custodians
routinely come into contact with hu-
man semen in their daily cleaning of
the restrooms, they are at risk. So as a
precaution against contracting any dis-
eases, they wear latex gloves and
goggles, as advised by the University.
Gen Stewart, the health education
coordinator at University Health Ser-
vices (UHS), said the custodians' con-
cern is not valid.
"There is no AIDS risk at all," she
said. "That's a homophobic way to
look at it. The HIV virus is very un-
stable and it dies very quickly outside
UHS clinicians said that unless
people come into contact with fresh
bodily fluids, there is no health risk
for sexually transmitted diseases.
There is a health risk to the men who
engage in unprotected sex.
UHS advises all participants to
protect themselves with latex con-
doms and/or rubber dams. Free con-
doms are available in the Health Pro-
motion and Community Relations
office in UHS.
Staff in Mason Hall had mixed
views about the activity and its risks.
"I've never had any problems, but
I don't want to find anything going
on," said Mark Kibby, a monitor in
the Angell Hall Computing Center.
"It's a very big subculture and I
think people should know about it
and understand it," Kibby said.
Many students said the uncleanli-
ness of the restrooms and the writing
on the walls is enough to keep them
from using these restrooms.
"I think it's absolutely disgusting!"
said Felipe Frias, an Engineering se-
nior. "It's going to make me think
twice about using them."
.Some students said it isn't a big
deal. "So what? People are enjoying
themselves in the restroom. What's
wrong with that? Who are they hurt-
Engaging in public sexual activity
is considered gross indecency or sod-
JOE W I HA I WU8Iy
The walls on this Mason Hall restroom stall are splattered with semen stains. Many of the building's custodians
have filed complaints about the unsanitary conditions in the restrooms.
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This entry in "Bob Damron's Address Book '87" - an international gay
publication - lists the Mason Hall restrooms as a cruising spot. The
"AYOR" indicates "At Your Own Risk," because of police surveillance.
ning out of one stall and into another
and slammed the door. And he was a
On any given day, police have
witnessed men looking for sex part-
ners, "cruising" the restrooms in Ma-
son Hall. The men will regularly check
each restroom, often 10 to 15 times in
a half hour, looking for a partner.
Once a match is made, the two
will look for a more secluded area,
usually in a less trafficked restroom
on another floor.
University officials acknowledge
that this is an ongoing problem they
have had for a long time.
"I'm not sure why it has to be a
restroom situation," Skowron ex-
plained, "but it has been for as long as
I've been a police officer, which is
about almost 30 years."
DPS Sgt. Dave Betts said, "The
reason why I think it has gone on for
so long is because before we had
University police, the campus was
protected by the Ann Arbor Police
"Whenever the AAPD would re-
ceive a call about sex in the restrooms
they would take 30 to 40 minutes to
get there. Since then, we will get the
call and are able to get there faster and
catch people," Betts said.
Toy concurred, saying that when
he came to the University 30 years
ago, it was the Michigan Union
restrooms where the activity took
Since the restructuring of the
Michigan Union restrooms, the activ-
ity has shifted to the restrooms in
Mason Hall, Angell Hall, the Gradu-
ate and Undergraduate libraries and
the Modern Languages Building.
Mason Hall men's restrooms are
the primary location because of their
24-hour accessibility. The restrooms
on the ground and first floors of Ma-
son and Angell Hall are also the most-
used restrooms by the computing cen-
ter users. The high traffic in these
restrooms adds to its attractiveness,
LSA senior Eyal Kedar gave a
different reasoning behind why Ma-
son Hall restrooms are popular for
"If a place becomes ahaven where
a certain activity takes place," he said,
"and subsequently develops a reputa-
tion for that, it's inevitable that if
these things are going to happen ev-
erywhere, that would be a likely
Official University opinion on this
activity has been mixed. Some be-
lieve this activity to be illegal and
troublesome to deal with, while oth-
ers had no idea it was going on.
"I've brought it up publicly some-
where in the mid-1980s," Baker said.
"These acts, under Michigan law, are
illegal. I don't think it has a place in a
Baker, who did an internal inves-
tigation on the complaints he received
from students and faculty, said he
feels it is more a matter of public
health and sanitation than harassing
the people who partake in this activ-
Maureen A. Hartford, vice presi-
dent for student affairs, said she was
unaware of this activity.
"I am still relatively new to U-M,
but I have not heard the rumors," she
said. "It would be difficult for me to
comment on a situation I know noth-
Harrison said he thought the
restrooms were only used as a pick-
up place and did not know sexual
activities were going on also.
"It's in the University's best inter-
ests to do what we can to keep sexual
activity from happening whether it be
males or females," he said. "At the
same time, we must be careful as to
not harass the people who may be
Students and custodians are now
fearful of health risks. Baker and
Harrison both have said the activity is
not proper behavior at the University.
DPS agrees the problems with the
restrooms need to be put to an end.
The culmination of these student,
faculty and staff complaints have
prompted the investigation commit-
tee to act. The committee has decided
that the best way to clean up the
restrooms would be to stop all illegal
sexual activity that takes place in them.
Some of the solutions the commit-
tee discussed were to cut about a foot
off the top of the stall doors. Lower-
ing the dividers between the stalls so
that no one can kneel underneath them
is another possible solution that was
"What we'd like to do is increase
visibility while maintaining privacy,"
He added that whatever solutions
the committee agrees upon will have
to be approved by the LSA building
administration and funds will have to
be allotted for restructuring. So far,
the committee has submitted its rec-
ommendations to the LSA adminis-
tration and is awaiting approval.
In the past, the University has in-
creased lighting in restrooms by
switching from light bulbs to fluores-
cent tamper-proof lighting. It also re-
moved the stall doors for a trial pe-
riod, but that only caused complaints.
Otto said he does not believe the
activity can be stopped by these mea-
"I've never known the (Univer-
sity) to do anything except wash the
walls," he said. "I don't think they can
stop it unless they put up signs and
LSA junior Frank Allison was
also skeptical that the activity can be
"It's not like you can stop people
from doing that ... I mean, what are
you going to do, have someone sit by
the door and monitor how long people
have been in there?"
Toy said he does not believe the
activity can be stopped by just changs
ing doors or locking up the baths
"There's no way you can curtail
it," he said. "If they locked those bath-
rooms uppeople would go elsewhere."
Betts, who is also concerned that
the activity would be pushed else=
where on campus, stated that mov=
ing it to other buildings may not be
all that bad.
"If we can learn what to do to make
Mason Hall not con'ducive to that ac
tivity," Betts explained, "we won't
have to reinvent the wheel if they go to
the next place."
Cain suggested that the University
work with the students and the comi
munity to combat the problem.
"If you get the community involved
you can stop it," Cain said. "If the
students want it to stop, you can stofl
it. They are extra eyes. They have
25,000 pairs of eyes compared to the
14 we have in the department."
Baker agreed. He said if students
want to clean up the restrooms, "there
has to be a public objection to the
Betts said, "I think a lot of it is not
affiliated people, which makes it hard
to educate and it makes it hard to get
the word out. Because you can affect
the students but if they're not the
ones involved, what's the point?"
Sgt. Betts advises that witnesses
to this activity should "try to report it
to us in a timely fashion as possible.'7
are staff and faculty members in
Angell Hall are fearful of going (to
the restroom) in there."
Mike HannafromOSEH conducted
an investigation for the committee to
see what other universities have done
about the problem of men having sex
in campus restrooms.
Eastern Michigan University
(EMU) overcame the same problem
in its union restroom more than a year
ago. Officer Stacey Cain of the EMU
Police Department said the depart-
ment has not received a call in over a
year after remodeling the bathroom.
"We did some real structure en-
forcement in there," Cain said. "We
observed the restrooms. If anybody
was in there for a long time, people
would callus and we would send some-
one in to check it out."
In a report, Hanna advised the
committee that the Centers for Dis-
ease Control in Atlanta has estab-
lished that contact with human blood
or semen may constitute a health haz-
ard risk, due to the prevalence of the
omy in the state of Michigan. Some-
times these acts - whether between
males and males or females and males
- are illegal under criminal sexual
conduct laws ranging from a misde-
meanor to a felony.
Although men are caught engag-
ing in this activity, Washtenaw County
Assistant Prosecutor Amy Ronayne
said the number of people actuafly
prosecuted is very small.
DPS officials said they do not
often' find University students in-
volved in this activity.
Rich Otto, who has been a monitor
in the Angell Hall Computing Center
for nearly 13 years, said he believes
University employees are involved.
"I think it's all kinds of people,"
Otto said. "I walked in about three
weeks ago and some guy came run-
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