Only in college: There’s something to be said for communal bathrooms


The bathrooms in West Campus Residence Halls may not be your first choice to get to know someone. But the communal bathroom experience is a key part of college. (William Chan/The Daily Campus)

When I think of dorm living one of the first things that rises to the top of my list is communal bathrooms. Like three to five stalls, a couple showers, a row of sinks, a chipped and overly lit mirror.

The idea of having your own bathroom to most freshmen and sophomores is a novel and exciting one. No more waiting for one of the two showers on your floor of 40 to open up. No more shower shoes or awkward hallway-towel encounters. No more hating Sunday mornings because the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in two days and has likely run out of toilet paper, paper towels and possibly even usable toilets. No more surprise vomit in the showers.

Going home for me wasn’t so much about getting to sleep in my own bed (to be honest I think it’s less comfortable than my bed at school), or about less noise (I grew up with three bothers and a chatty parrot) or even about the food (not going to lie, my parents aren’t the best cooks).

Going home for me was about taking a shower without flip flops, about having space to change in the bathroom, about not running into people I’d rather not see when wrapped in a towel.

I remember when it came time to pick housing for junior year – and the idea of getting a suite was actually a possibility – everyone was excited because we would finally have our own bathroom.

But I – despite how much I missed my shower at home – was not.

I admit I have no great love for public bathrooms, but they do have their advantages.

First off, they are the social hub of the floor. I think I met all my best friends freshmen year going to, coming from or actually in the bathroom. There was no common room for us to gather in on the sixth floor of Buckley, so what better meeting spot than the bathroom? And what better party than a tooth brushing one?

Second (and my personal favorite), I didn’t have to clean them. Or supply them. Or do anything but make a phone call if something was going wrong.

This is a big deal.

I don’t know how many of you grew up cleaning your own bathroom, but let me tell you, when it is left to your own discretion the bathroom doesn’t stay quite as spotless as when the cleaning staff sanitizes it every week day.

Third, with a suite we would not only be paying extra to have our own bathroom – yay cleaning privileges – but we would now have to pay to keep it stocked… or at least do some first-class smuggling of toilet paper rolls from those precious public bathrooms.

I remember trying to explain these drawbacks of a suite to my friends and potential roommates, but they all shook their heads and we ended up in a suite this year.

Sure enough, I haven’t dealt with surprise vomit in the shower and I haven’t worn shower shoes in months, but those days when you finish a roll and realize you had better do some swift shopping (or stealing) or you know that it is truly way past time for a good cleaning or your shower drain is no longer functional and your feet are under inches of water… Those are the days when I dream about communal bathrooms. 

Julia Werth is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at

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