November 8, 2000
On the Campus
women only (please?)
a bathroom takes coeducation two feet too far
In the past two months,
hairy ankles have become my least favorite sight. This is because
hairy ankles mean boys' feet, and I see them in the most uncomfortable
of places: my bathroom.
The bathroom on the fourth
floor of Edwards, exactly 125 feet down the hall from my door, is
supposed to be a women's restroom. "Supposed" is the operative
word here. At one point there was actually a W-O in front of the
M-E-N painted on the door. Unfortunately, last year's mostly male
hallway, tired of the continuous trek down to the second floor to
visit their own bathroom, decided they would be better off without
those two pesky letters and took a scraper to the windowpane. Things
haven't been the same since.
My roommates and I actually
discussed this matter in some depth last spring, when we learned
of the scraping-off of the W-O. We would take a hard line early.
We would put our collective feet down together so no one person
would take the heat. There would be no coed bathroom in our hall.
Things didn't go exactly
as planned. At first we credited the steady flow of boys into our
restroom as part of moving in. They had just lugged couches and
chairs up four flights of stairs, as had we. Everyone was tired.
Everyone was dirty. No one wanted to be the one to say, "Guys,
hike it downstairs, please." We figured we would let the bathroom
slide for a few days and when things settled down, well, then we
would really take our stand.
We didn't realize our
moment was already over. The boys wouldn't leave.
I must admit that in
some (limited) ways, the boys aren't all that bad. They take shorter
showers. They spread the daily newspaper out across the floor to
read should the need or occasion arise. They suggest that we use
the conservative magazine for toilet paper. They are funny. But
they are still guys. They leave the seat up. Always. The first few
times I encountered an upright seat I actually thought to myself,
Oh, that's nice; our bathroom's just been cleaned.
I have a hunch that a
blind vote on our hallway would favor a single-sex bathroom by a
margin on the order of 80/20, with all of the girls and a surprising
number of the boys voting for one gender only. Some are already
voting with their feet. My roommates plan strategically: Firestone,
Frist, Woody Woo - all with good single-sex bathrooms. The guy across
the hall hasn't put in a fourth-floor restroom appearance for weeks
either. Why, then, hasn't anyone spoken up? This is probably the
first and last time I wish I had paid attention in social psychology.
All I know is, every
time I walk into the bathroom I pray I won't see hairy ankles under
the shower door. Before this bathroom experience, I thought I was
cool, confident about the whole mixed-residential thing. After all,
I'm the Princeton student of the year 2000. I just didn't know hairy
ankles were part of the deal.
Anne Ruderman (ahruderman@princeton.
edu) writes: It is inevitable that the senior On the Campus
writer, charged with completing a book in order to receive his/her
diploma, will bring his/her thesis into the content of this column,
usually in the form of a gripe. I am not going to continue this
practice. Instead, I will offer you a running count about my thesis
at the foot of every column: Number of Pages Written vs. Dollar
Amount of Library Fines Accrued. Right now the score is 0-0. (And,
yes, I have a topic.) Game on.