While I’m not one to argue with the great English Bard himself, to pee or not to pee is usually not the question.
At the eternal wrath and scorn of English literature fans everywhere, I want to revise the question. Like that obnoxious phone call from an ex-girlfriend just as soon as you sit in the back seat of your father’s new Ford with your new girlfriend, most people don’t choose when nature calls.
They can however, decide where they want to do their doody.
And at UR, some bathrooms float to the top while others are best left forgotten as they sink to the bottom.
During my eternal quest for the sacred throne of all bathrooms on campus, I had to go through many that were stinkers. But my first stop for eternal bathroom glory was none other than the bathroom graffiti of the modern age: controversial college website College ACB, where students have been going back and forth for months over the best places to go.
And of course, I’ll only be visiting half of the bathrooms on campus. Everybody — even the fine folks at “Saturday Night Live” — knows that the female bathrooms have couches and carpet galore, so they are going to remain exempt from my study.
My first stop on this highway to hell was none other than possibly one of the most trafficked bathrooms on campus: the Commons level bathrooms in Wilson Commons.
The main problem with this stop is mostly the amount of roughage it goes through. During business hours, it isn’t uncommon to find stalls trashed and backed-up, literally, and that just makes for a mess for everybody involved. Even Mr. Hankey himself wouldn’t have called it home.
And though people often leave a half-read newspaper on the floor in the luxury and wide-laned handicap stall, it isn’t enough to make this anywhere close to the best rest stop on campus.
The next place on my list is another mark of convenience. Running through the tunnels, especially during the colder months in Rochester, can rarely be avoided. Like the Oregon Trail, people go through here simply because they need to, not because they want to.
The basement floor of Dewey was mentioned by many as their favorite place on campus. Tall doors painted a lovely shade of
Cash’s Folsom Prison Blue; I wasn’t expecting much out of this bathroom. Small in comparison to most of the other places and older looking to boot, poor Dewey basement falls somewhere in between the toilet lid and the seat: it isn’t good enough to stand up on its own right and yet is clean enough for most people who aren’t as picky as me.
Weekly visits to this bathroom after my three hour seminar, however, proved that while this isn’t quite an Escalade, it’s more of a Jaguar. Not quite full with all the bells and whistles, lacking in leg room still managing to get the work done most of the time. Rarely have I found this bathroom unusable, although the small stalls can lead to cramped space, especially if you need to hang your book bag (but at least it has hooks, some of the stalls at least- and wifi!).
My journey continued to the Morey Hall bathrooms. Home to the English department and thus the majority of my classes, Morey is also a good cross section of the tunnel system, allowing students a quick and easy stop in between classes.
And sure, I can give Morey some props for being slightly better than the other places on campus, but it just has always felt too old, stuffy and rustic for me. It’s a far cry from a gas station bathroom on the highway, but I wouldn’t call it the end all to be all.
For some students however, while most attention is given to academic building bathrooms, dorm bathrooms are actually worth the shit one must go through in the housing lottery to pick a prime locale.
Alumnus David Maystrovsky recalled how the bathrooms almost influenced his choice of residential living preference.
“The Gilbert bathrooms are awesome if you’re an incoming freshman,” he said. “I almost made Gilbert my first choice because of their crappers.”
To be fair to the female half of my audience, I wanted to at least check out the male equivalent of one of the bathrooms that woman found the best. Easier said than done, as the men’s room behind Pura Vida lacks the Ferris Wheel and Slip-N-Slide of the alternative, but at least it was worth a shot.
Junior Molin Shi was one proponent of the slightly off the beaten path bathrooms that are nestled behind Pura Vida in Goergen Hall. “Clean, big, and bright, and it’s never really crowded when I go, but then again I don’t go there in rush hours,” she said.
My trip to the oasis of paradise was less than exciting, however. Though these bathrooms had not one, but two handicap stalls, and the bathroom was quite spacious, it was far from the exhilarating rush I was expecting given all the hype.
Just like after I saw “Inception,” I left feeling duped, let down and glad that’s not what dreams are actually made of.
When I mentioned several of the other stalls that were nearing the top of my list, Shi passed it off, sticking to her choice in Goergen. “Meh. Not a huge fan, better than others but certainly not the best.”
And without further apoo, my quest, for the time being, settled on the perhaps not the Holy Grail, but maybe the Holy Silverware.
One poster on College ACB directed me toward Goergen Athletic Center, to a hidden set of bathrooms between the basketball and tennis courts. Not a frequent attendee of the gym, I was excited for these bathrooms, which the poster called “immaculate.” Did the same word that was used to describe the virgin Mary’s conception deserve to describe this hidden bathroom?
Not by my high standards for each, sadly.
What was described as a hidden bathroom did take some searching, but the only bathroom I would eventually discover in the area described was a far cry from the “immaculate” adjective given to it. Sure, the one stall was fairly large, and the only urinal allowed for maximum privacy, but it was a far cry from the glory I had hoped for. During high traffic times at the gym (such as games, perhaps) having only two means of finishing your business just isn’t adequate, and the old interior just screamed of not being on the top of the cleaning priority list, probably because it isn’t used that often, and again, probably for good reason.
So that left me high and dry. Somebody mentioned the bathrooms near the IT Center: been there, tried that, wasn’t impressed. The hidden stall in Douglass Hall came up, and while it is one of the few individual bathrooms on campus, it just didn’t have that pizzazz for the absolute best bathroom on campus.
There was only one choice left: I had to dare for the impossible and shoot for the mop and hope I wouldn’t land in the bucket. I had to go straight to the top- or the bottom- of this story. I had to find the fabled toilet of UR President Joel Seligman.
“If you shoot too high and miss, everybody feels more secure.” – Deep Throat, “All The President’s Men”
The perfect plan for the perfect toilet. I walked into the glistening Presidential Suite and quickly stopped by the secretary. Just like I had planned.
I explained that I wanted to set up a meeting with President Seligman next semester for the new Campus Times leadership. Not an odd request, but the fact that I was coming in person instead of e-mailing might have seemed a little out of place. “Can you just e-mail the scheduling person?” the secretary asked.
“Whatever is easier for you, I just happened to be close by so figured I’d stop in,” I replied.
Again, just like the plan.
She handed me a piece of paper with the lady to e-mail, and I turned to leave and then laid the bait out.
“I’m actually running in between classes, and I couldn’t find one. Do you think there is a bathroom in here I could use?”
“Of course, I’ll show you the way.”
I turned to head deeper into El Dorado, before she cut me off and directed me down the hall.
“The men’s room is down that way, right next to that poster.”
Yup. I had walked right by that bathroom on my way here. Not the one I wanted to use, but now I was stuck between a sewer and a hard place.
The good news: this bathroom was still possibly the best on campus. Fanciest urinals and the cleanest, noted by the fact it still smelled clean and had a pile of cleaning supplies neatly stacked by the window: This bathroom got cleaned and got cleaned often.
But the question still remained, was the one that graces the royal Highness’ highest? I had my doubts, but for the time being, it was still probably in the upper echelons of bathrooms, even if it wasn’t the sacred throne I had come here to find.
Somewhat defeated, I took consolidation in being reminded that even with every defeat, there is a hopefully not toilet build up lining and remembered that no matter how good toilets were on campus, they still didn’t hold anything to toilets out in the real world.
At least in the real world, toilet paper and sand paper aren’t two sides of the same painful coin.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.