Dorms Declassified: Team Communal 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.

So, the other day I was talking with some of my friends about the housing lottery and which dorms were on their top list. We quickly got into a conversation about bathrooms: which dorms had the best bathrooms, bathroom etiquette, cleanliness, etc. We ultimately started debating whether private, semi-private, or communal dorm bathrooms were better … I know riveting conversation. But in all honesty, it is important to know where you personally stand on the issue. Bathrooms are a large part of the dorm experience.

I am team communal bathrooms. I understand that all bathroom forms have drawbacks and positive aspects, but I am partial to the no fuss communal bathrooms. I feel like communal bathrooms have a bad rep. People recoil at the idea of sharing a bathroom with their hallmates. Frankly, much of this bad press is unnecessary and plagued by exaggerated media representation and horror stories.

Here is why I advocate for the communal bathrooms:

  1. You don’t have to clean the bathrooms. Brown Facilities does a great job of keeping our public spaces clean. I struggle to do my own laundry, much less clean my own bathroom. I know that if I were to have a private bathroom (like they do in the suites), I would be living in a perpetual state of filth because I wouldn’t clean the bathroom like I should.
  2. There is anonymity. When you are sharing the bathroom with your floor, there are more suspects as to who smelled up the bathroom.
  3. There are multiple stalls and showers. When you have a private/semi-private bathroom you have to take turns on using the bathroom. Granted everyone’s schedule is different and I rarely shower at the same time as someone else now, but it is nice to know that no matter what I can shower, brush my teeth, and go to the bathroom when I want without relying on the fact that someone else isn’t using the bathroom.
  4. The communal bathrooms have privacy. The showers are not simply a bunch of showerheads in a room without any curtains. Brown dorms have shower curtains/stall doors for all showers and toilets. People do have their own space.
  5. You would still have to wear shower shoes even if you had a private/semi-private bathroom. Brown dorms are old and some germs never wash away (regardless if communal or not).

Because I must be fair, here is my personal list of communal bathroom’s drawbacks:

  1. People are messier when they don’t have to clean up after themselves.
  2. You have to carry your bathroom items to and from the bathroom. You have to buy and use a shower caddy.
  3. You can’t sing in the shower without everyone hearing you.
  4. Communal bathrooms are less “homey.”

Most of the first-year dorms have communal bathrooms! YAY! I promise it is not a bad thing.

If you have comments or questions about this column or anything related to Brown, please email me at


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