During my first year at Vassar, I learned that college students have no qualms about their lavatorial activities. College is almost a communal experience—we all share this campus, and thus we share all the bathrooms. Therefore, students aren’t bothered by what their peers hear behind the stalls. I soon stopped caring—or rather, stopped giving a shit—whenever someone took a dump nearby. In fact, going to the bathroom could even start a conversation. I could pass by a stall in the library and be greeted with a hello from someone who recognized my shoes from down below.
As a former self identified “poop-shy” student, it took a while to get comfortable with doing my business on campus spots other than my assigned bathroom stall. The environment of the bathroom, in particular, was a huge factor in my “poop-shyness.” Spacing, sanitation and smell all are critical to the comfort of my bowels. If these three criteria look dismal, I can’t do the doo. This failure to use a public bathroom leaves my bowels and I walking back to my dorm, ashamed of our cowardice.
However, I am not the only one who has an “anxious anus.” The fear of going to the bathroom seems to be universal. But perhaps we can relieve ourselves from potty stress by knowing which campus stalls are best suited to our comfort, and which stalls are best left alone. Here are some of Vassar’s bathrooms from best to worst, as recommended by me and fellow Vassar students from the Facebook group “Vassar: The Virtual Version.”
Swift, first floor: Much is to be appreciated about this bathroom, but what I love most is that it is a single-room bathroom. You can be at peace while taking a dump, not having to worry about others hearing nearby. The lights in Swift’s bathroom have this alluring effect—sometimes when I wash my hands, I find myself entranced by their warm glow like moths near outdoor lamps. What ruins the otherwise tranquil experience of Swift is that you can’t enjoy yourself for long. Someone will knock, reminding you to stop hogging the toilet.
New England, first floor: A beautiful single bathroom. I love the setup of the walls. In particular, the wall that divides the toilet from the sinks gives the illusion of isolation in a spacious place. Seat your buttocks on the white throne and take a shit in peace, undisturbed. The lighting by the mirror makes for great bathroom selfies.
Olmsted, second floor: When I asked on Vassar’s Facebook for best places to take a dump on campus, Devin Dufour ’22 recommended Olmsted’s gender neutral bathroom. “[It] is huge and [a] single stall and has a big mirror for taking pics (nudes or otherwise idk what you’re into),” Dufour commented, “but also feels hidden enough that you can spend several minutes in there crying without anyone knowing what you’re doing.”
Taylor, art hallway: This bathroom in Taylor can be found in a hallway leading to the Art Library. You’ll feel like a work of art while you sit on the toilet and admire such intricate details as the ornate lock above the doorknob. As Emma Iadanza ’22 commented on Facebook, “Of course the art department has the best bathroom; we live for the Aesthetic.”
Main, Rose Parlor: I fondly remember that this was the first bathroom I used when I visited Vassar. Indeed, I think the Rose Parlor bathroom is the closest I’ll get to a life of luxury. Where do I start: the fancy wallpaper, clothes hangers and even a sofa/couch to sit on, not to mention the warm lighting for mirror selfies. The con, though, is that there are three stalls, so you don’t enjoy the moment(s) of solitude you would have at Swift. But the bathroom is also a nice relaxation spot for mental breakdowns—go ahead and cry on the couch! No one will judge you.
Bridge, second floor: While the Bridge facilities lack the opulent aura of the Rose Parlor, I have never seen such a spacious bathroom. Like its fancy counterpart, the bathroom has a bench and is a nice spot to rush to after a long day of lab work.
Library, first floor: Release your bladder and yourself from the stress of midterms in this secluded stall. Located by the 24-Hour Section, this bathroom is a perfect pit-stop for those late night cramming sessions. While the stench of urine may crinkle your nose, the privacy to yourself is worth it. I’ve also found that the bathroom is rather clean, though that seems to be the standard for most bathrooms on campus. Vassar students have better hygiene than my high school classmates.
Library, second floor: The women’s bathroom by the elevator offers stalls that, while small, give you the freedom to defecate however you please. If you don’t have a paper or phone to read while taking a shit, you can entertain yourself by reading the graffiti on the walls. One inscription on the wall reads, “This way to the Ministry of Magic,” but I haven’t tested that advice out myself.
Main, second floor: Want to feel like you’re being beamed up by a flying saucer as you take a dump? Look no further than to the bathroom by the LGBTQ+ center. Sit below these bathroom lights and feel as if you’re transcending through space, observing time like a Tralfamadorian.
Sanders Classroom, ground floor: I do like the bathroom that I’ve used here, but am annoyed that one of the toilets is obnoxiously high for my short legs. I almost have to climb when I want to squat over the toilet bowl. There is a nice Mary Oliver poem that I like to read while I take a quick piss; such graffiti seems to encapsulate the Vassar spirit of finding beauty and art in the most abysmal of places, like a bathroom stall.
Jewett, basement: The problem with bathrooms—especially public ones—is their smell. When you have so many people coming in, you create this pungent cloud, a culmination of the foul odors of the human body. But Jewett’s basement bathroom actually smells nice. This bathroom is also rumored to be the easiest bathroom to poop in, according to Leora Shlasko ’22. Referring to the bathroom as the “poop palace of the phallus palace,” Shlasko claimed, “It’s closer to the center of gravity so it makes it EASY. Don’t blame me, this one is on science.”
Davison dorms: I want to also give an honorary shoutout to the Davi basement, but I do think that the dorm bathrooms also deserve their praise. Nice and clean, it easily impressed a Joss resident like me who has dealt with her fair share of filth. More on that later.
Rockefeller Hall, first and fourth floor: Personally, I’ve always resented these bathrooms because I’ve had too many classes here at Rocky, along with nightly Misc meetings (that have now since been converted to sessions on Zoom). As such, they’ve always felt dismal—when I hear the toilet flush, I hear my soul get sucked down the drain, and leave Rocky with a strange bleakness. The bathrooms on the first floor aren’t so bad, but the bathroom on the fourth floor is a tad too cramped. The fourth floor bathroom requires wiggle room and a little squat, and I prefer a more dignified dump.
Chicago, basement: When I asked Alexander Pham ’23 to describe this damp and small bathroom, he could not find any words to describe his dejectedness: “If I had to sum the bathroom up with an emoji,” he said, “it’s this one: :(”
Main dorms: What a letdown. You would think that Vassar could share some of the luxury of the Rose Parlor bathrooms with the bathrooms that most students actually use, but alas, the College can never get its priorities right. See this photo of a fallen sink and you’ll get the idea.
Josselyn dorms: In my first year at Vassar, I remember the joy of walking into puddles of pee, spotting chunks of poo and wondering if the water that I sat on was someone else’s pee or from the toilet bowl. I have also had the strangest conversations here. Once, a student who had one too many drinks asked me if you could get drunk from dipping a tampon into alcohol before shoving it up your butt. I glanced at a fellow floormate who was brushing his teeth, and we just exchanged the most dismal of looks, wondering if this was what our tuition was for.
Skinner, basement: A straight-up scene in a horror movie. You walk down an eerie set of stairs and enter a door with “Lavatory” printed on old mahogany. When you turn on the lights, expect yourself to wonder if you’ve walked into a janitor’s closet by accident, as you’ll find cleaning equipment next to what I would call the result of what would happen if a sink and toilet had a baby together. There’s a tiny stall next to all of this that doesn’t have much leg room, and you’ll honestly want to run out when you’re finished with your business.