Petition for Muslim handheld bidets clogged by questions

Chance Swaim

Ayesha Mosharraf presented Wednesday her petition for handheld bidets to Eric Sexton, vice president of Wichita State’s Student Affairs and executive director of Athletics.

“He didn’t say ‘yes,’ but he didn’t say ‘no,’ either,” Mosharraf said of her meeting with Sexton on Wednesday. “He said we needed to do more research and that we would meet at a later time to discuss it further.”

In the last month, Mosharraf — who takes six graduate courses and works as a graduate research assistant — has gathered more than 600 signatures, including signatures from 35 faculty members, in favor of installing handheld bidets in the restrooms of the Rhatigan Student Center, Heskett Center and Ablah Library at WSU.

The petition started earlier this month to add the showerheads to be used by Muslim students to wash themselves after doing the needful. Currently, students have to rely on water and squirt bottles. For Muslims, it is a religious thing, Mosharraf said. For others, like students from Asian and India, it is a cultural thing.

Mosharraf’s Wednesday includes directing water from the sink to near the toilet in smaller, family restrooms around campus that would seemingly solve the issue of going into the walls to access a water supply.

Wichita State would be the first university in the United States to install handheld bidets on its campus, Mosharraf said.

“We’re just still trying to figure out what is possible,” Sexton said. “Because there are really no implementations in public buildings in the entire country. It might be a great opportunity to be first, but let’s make sure we know exactly how we can do it in a respectful, first-class way and a way that’s cost-effective. We don’t even know all of the information, so we’re continuing to investigate.”

Mosharraf said Sexton told her the university would look into adding them in Innovation Campus buildings, but he can’t make any promises.

“I’m still hopeful,” she said, “because Wichita State talks about diversity. They teach students to fight for their rights, and now I am fighting for my rights.”

George Schroeder, a supervisor with WSU’s Physical Plant, said he hasn’t heard anything about the installation of handheld bidets in any of the buildings on campus. However, he said he has previous experience with the installation of handheld bidets in residential restrooms.

“Since [the RSC, Heskett and Ablah] are commercial buildings, we would have to get into the walls and run a smaller water line out from inside the walls,” he said.

Paul Lytle, building systems engineer for WSU Architectural & Engineering Service, indicated he had not heard about handheld bidets, either.

“I would have to look into it,” Lytle said. “It sounds like we would have to replace the entire units in the buildings.” 

No matter the decision of WSU’s administration, Mosharraf said she remains hopeful, but said it’s still frustrating to not have a definitive answer.

“Sexton said some students may be concerned with the hygiene of the Muslim showers,” she said, “or they may be irritated by their presence on campus, but I don’t think it would cause a problem. It wouldn’t harm anyone, it would only give people more options.”

Mosharraf said Sexton provided no timeline for when to expect a decision on the handheld bidets.

“I don’t know what happens next,” Mosharraf said. “I don’t want it all to be for no reason — all of the signatures I gathered. People signed [the petition] because they want these things.”

— Contributing: TJ Rigg of

The Sunflower