On finding solitude and the ideal bathrooms on campus

The moment I felt Colby became my home was the moment I found the perfect place to drop a brick. As a first year, there’s nothing like finding that perfect place to take a shit. For the first time since you moved into a 200 square-foot room with another human, and began sharing a bathroom with 15 other people, finding a lone stall in a deserted academic building is a blessing. Unless you live off campus, it’s hard to find a place to be alone when you are no more than 30 feet away from another human at any given time. Especially for first years, transitioning from home, a place one feels completely comfortable, to a dorm, privacy is a scarce commodity.

But let me get to the point of the article: what truly is the best place to shit on campus? There are proponents for handicapped single bathrooms in Lovejoy, third floor Diamond at night, the single bathrooms right outside of Lopo, second floor Page, and some random single stalls scattered through Hillside and Frat Row. Having spent my freshman year in Marriner, I always appreciated the non-vomit-covered floor of the single bathroom on the first floor. There are many pros to that porcelain haven: out of earshot of any rooms, no one uses it, no one really even knows it’s there. All in all, my freshman year experience would have been way shittier (pun intended) without having found a private bathroom.

Some people are secure enough in their bodily functions to talk freely about their bowel movements. Laura Wu ’18 explained that during her freshman year she was “more ashamed of my poops because that’s what society does.” But her attitude has changed to a more “IDGAF” outlook. “This year I feel more confident and just want to be comfortable,” she said. “I have no shame.” Many do not share this sentiment. Few people can drop a load without dropping a load of embarrassment. Hence, the only way many discuss their pooping plans is anonymously on Yik Yak, or only to their closest friends.

But why is finding a place to poo so difficult? There are many considerations that are factor into this epic quest: noise pollution, sense of security, number of nearby stalls, frequency of use, gap between stall door (i.e. decreased likelihood of the dreaded eye contact through the stall door gap). Kira Brown’s ’18, favorite place was in Coburn. “My favorite stall was the first stall, [be]cause there was a sense of security, because, you know, you had the wall.” For Wu, natural lighting and proximity to her dorm room influenced her location of choice. “It’s a very open space, and I can go hide in my room afterwards.” Her honorable mention was the bathroom near Foss dining hall, because it has an automatic air freshener and “there’s always so much talking outside of the bathroom that you can take huge dumps without anybody hearing.”

But finding the perfect combination of all these factors can be pretty difficult on a small campus with a limited number of bathrooms and thus, a limited number of places one feels comfortable dropping a log.

But why is it so necessary to find a private place to do the deed? Isn’t any bathroom private enough? Is this search more about privacy than poop?

Absolute privacy is scarce in college. Buck Auchincloss ’16 explains, “there’s a reason why I’ve had a single for the past three years.” As a first year, no one lives in a single. Therefore, no first year has a space they can completely call their own. A student who wished to remain anonymous opposes this policy. “The idea that every first year must have a roommate experience is another way Colby privileges extroverted personalities and overlooks mental health issues…” The same student explained that during their first semester at Colby, the “stress of rarely getting alone time, not even in the bathrooms, in the highly performative environment of Colby really built up.”

Even as an upperclassman, if a person has roommate issues, his limited private space can become a hostile environment. Alisha Lee ’18 explains, “there aren’t really separate rooms where you can just go to be alone.” Lee remembers the first couple of weeks of her first year to as a trying time, “It was all pretty overwhelming.” Another student who asked to remain anonymous said their first year was “emotionally and socially draining” because of their roommate issues. “I would go from constant social interaction back to my room­—a double where my roommate was almost constantly present.”

For others, privacy is less of an issue. Another student remembers the need to be constantly surrounded by people as a freshman. “As a Feb Frosh, I felt like I needed to be around people all the time because I didn’t have strong friendships with people on campus yet,”

Brown said that this year, “I’m comfortable everywhere on campus.” Lee agreed, but said that during her first year, she “didn’t really have a private space” despite the fact that her freshman year roommates became her best friends. Not all of us can be as lucky as Lee or Brown.

This search for privacy may be a way for college students to negotiate the transition from home to Colby. Home means a sense of security and privacy to be yourself, and people’s poop is an embarrassing part of themselves that almost everyone has been socialized to hide, even if we are (technically) adults. Maybe our quest to find a quiet place to poop mirrors our quest for a private place to be alone on a crowded, clique-y campus. Unfortunately, unlike Facebook, a person can’t put privacy settings on a bathroom. In a society that values privacy but increasingly presents fewer opportunities to be private, the quest never ends.

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