Supporters of bidet installation continue discussion despite controversy

Chance Swaim

Through the noise of the chapel debates, graduate student Ayesha Mosharraf continues her push for the installation of hand-held showers in the restrooms of three campus buildings.

Some people have linked a petition for the inclusion of hand-held bidets at Wichita State to accusations of an “Islamic transformation” on campus in the recent national controversy surrounding Grace Memorial Chapel.

Eric Sexton, WSU vice president of Student Affairs and executive director of Athletics, said the two issues are unrelated, regardless of media reports.

“With the chapel, we’re looking at creating a space that is open and welcome to all students to use in a way that they would like to use it — Christian students, as well as a variety of others,” Sexton said.

The petition advocated the installation of handheld bidets in the restrooms of the Rhatigan Student Center, Heskett Center and Ablah Library. Bidets are showerhead-like attachments used for washing after using the toilet — reducing the use of toilet paper and increasing cleanliness, graduate student Ayesha Mosharraf said. Currently, students rely on squirt bottles when using the restroom on campus in place of bidets.

In September, Mosharraf gathered more than 600 signatures favoring the bidets and later met with Sexton to discuss the steps she could take after petitioning to install the hand-held bidets to bathrooms around campus. Sexton told Mosharraf to write a proposal.

“This is not a religious issue like the chapel,” Mosharraf said. “This is a culture issue and a hygiene issue.”

Sexton said the conversation about installing hand-held bidets is just getting started.

Mosharraf said she will complete a preliminary proposal draft sometime this week. 

Part of her proposal will include data on international student enrollment numbers compiled by the WSU Office of Planning and Analysis. In countries with the most significant international student populations, including India and Saudi Arabia, hand-held bidets in bathrooms are common. 

Since 2010, data indicates the international student enrollment at WSU has grown by 467 students. During that same time, the overall enrollment at Wichita State has grown by 197 students, according to enrollment numbers listed on the university’s website.

“Wichita State has a lot of international students who would like to use [the bidets],” Mosharraf said. “[The bidets] will help make Wichita State more welcome to everyone.”

Sexton said his next step is to read the proposal.

“We will wait to see what the proposal looks like and then start the conversation [to see] if that is possible or doable,” he said. “We can’t make any decisions or any statements until we know what we’re talking about.”

Mosharraf said the hateful online comments about Muslims in response to the changes at the chapel were discouraging.

“I stopped working on [the proposal] because I was like, ‘This is going to affect the bidets, too, because the chapel business is in their mind,’” Mosharraf said.

She said she has other tensions with school and work, and she put the petition for bidets — already mired in questions — in the back of her mind.  

“I am the only one who was working on it, and now I’m exhausted, and now it’s like this isn’t going to happen,” Mosharraf said. “But I can’t give up.”