Dorms Declassified: Bathrooms

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Hello! My name is Alejandra (Ali) Gatas Johnson and I am your Dorms Declassified: Brown Survival Guide blogger.  Living in a dorm with a roommate was one of the things that I was most excited but also nervous about for college. This blog is to help ease the concern and provide insight on residential life at Brown.

When living in a college dorm you learn a thing or two about privacy and cleanliness. You learn how to be comfortable around near strangers. A major challenge and adjustment of living in the dorm rooms is the communal bathrooms/semi-private bathrooms.

Many dorms have one bathroom that is shared by the entire hallway. The communal bathrooms usually consist of 2-3 toilets and shower stalls (with doors or a curtain). Semi-private bathrooms are “private” in the sense that you have a single room with a shower, sink, and toilet that you use and share with another dorm room. Regardless of being communal or semi-private dorm bathrooms are an adjustment to college life.

Many students are concerned about gender in regards to communal bathrooms. Dorms usually are co-ed. There are some floors that are gender exclusive. Students that prefer gendered dorms can select to be placed on those floors. Every dorm should have at least one gender inclusive bathroom for people that identify as any gender or nonbinary gender. In addition, at the beginning of the first semester, each hallway will decide to either make the bathrooms on the floor gendered or gender neutral.

This seems like a big decision with a large range of sensitivity for both options, but it actually isn’t that big of a deal. All toilets and showers have individual stalls, so gender doesn’t really make a different. For those of you who chose to make your hallway bathrooms gender inclusive. I promise you after a couple of weeks, you barely notice whether it is a girl or a boy who enters the bathroom. Furthermore, because of a variety in schedules most people don’t shower or use the bathroom at the same time. I know I rarely am showering at the same time as another person.

Another aspect of college life that prospective freshman tend to dread is the lack of privacy. While, the bathrooms do have stalls/curtains, people still need to get to and from the bathroom. Students must overcome the embarrassment of morning-breath and messy hair while catching glimpses of their neighbors in the same groggy state. People must overcome the shyness of walking to the bathroom with only a towel or a bathrobe. Everyone is in the same boat, awkwardly adjusting to college life. The lack of privacy is pretty different from being at home. But it usually doesn’t take too long to get comfortable in the new surroundings.

Another concern about dorm bathrooms is cleanliness. Common bathrooms are regularly cleaned by facilities personnel and they tend to do a very good job. However, they do get dirty and people can be nasty (hair ‘murals’ in the showers, toothpaste stains, etc.). If it ever gets especially bad, call facilities and let them know and tell your RPL (Residential Peer Leader) so the issue can be addressed. I would highly recommend that all students pick up the habit of wearing shower shoes when showering and using a shower caddy to carry bathroom items to and from the bathroom.

But the bathrooms are not and should not be the biggest deal in college. Don’t stress about them. You will adjust to the new living situation. Check back next week to read about UNITS! Until next time!

If you have comments or questions about this column or anything related to Brown, please email me at alejandra_gatas_johnson@brown.edu. 

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