OPINION: Students need more privacy in bathrooms

Some students support private bathrooms even if they would not use them



For the students who live on campus, it is important for them to have a decent quality of life. Part of that is making sure they have the privacy they need.

JUSTIN WASHINGTON, Evergreen research editor

We hear time and time again that college is a transitional period. There are many unfamiliar situations to navigate.

One of those unfamiliar situations is communal spaces on campus. Kitchens, lounge rooms and showers are just a few examples. 

The worst one, however, is public bathrooms.

While it is hard to put an exact number to it, there are a lot of people who have an extreme aversion to public bathrooms, often because of hygiene or privacy concerns. Parcopresis, an aversion to defecating in public, and paruresis, an aversion to urinating in public, are terms associated with these anxieties.

I strongly dislike public bathrooms because I grew up learning how to be a modest and private person. I cannot remember the last time I took my shirt off in a public setting because the idea of being immodest makes me uncomfortable.

However, this will not be the same view of everyone on campus. Some people might have grown up in environments where they learned to be more open about themselves, so going to the bathroom in public is a completely stress-free experience for them.

Either way, there is definitely a large group of people on campus who do not like public bathrooms – or at the very least prefer not to use them. It should definitely be respected either way.

The issue is that there are very few private bathrooms on campus outside of the residence halls. Even the ones that exist are not accessible during certain days or times.

If WSU aims to be a comfortable environment for everyone, then there should be more private bathrooms, especially accessible ones.

Austin Shoote, freshman social studies education major, said he thinks people dislike public bathrooms because bathrooms are the only place people can have true privacy. While he said he does not mind using public bathrooms, he supports the idea of more private bathrooms on campus.

“I think private bathrooms would be a great idea to spread around campus, either along with more traditional public restrooms or fully replacing them,” Shoote said.

He said he recently visited modern high schools with private stalls completely surrounded by walls from the floor to the ceiling, which he thinks is both an interesting and good idea.

Senior biology major Daniel Pettengill said sanitation is a huge consideration for people using public bathrooms, especially with respect to the pandemic. 

Pettengill said sanitary conditions are somewhat of a concern for him in relation to public bathrooms, but he has not had an issue with them. 

“I personally may not use [private bathrooms], but I don’t think it is a bad idea, especially for people who are not comfortable using public bathrooms,” he said.

Chris Tang, junior computer science major, said he does not think private bathrooms are space or cost-efficient on campus. Additionally, he does not think people have a big issue when it comes to privacy or cleanliness.

“I don’t think that private bathrooms would help in student centers because it still has the issue of being dirty,” he said. “Having private bathrooms could [also] cause lines.”

I think it is important to understand this issue is not a matter of “all private bathrooms” or “no private bathrooms whatsoever.” 

There are enough people who are comfortable with public bathrooms to warrant keeping them on campus. I would never suggest they should be removed. 

Furthermore, having 100% private bathrooms everywhere would not only be impractical but unrealistic. Rather, I think there should be a mix of private and public bathrooms on campus.

This is already the case in the Chinook Student Center, where the top floor has public bathrooms, and the bottom floor has private bathrooms. This allows students the choice of which ones they feel comfortable with.

However, there are still large buildings on campus, like the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, the Compton Union Building and the libraries that would benefit from having private bathrooms available to students, even if they have to alternate between public and private bathrooms on each floor.