RICHARDS: Flush it down: a friendly bathroom etiquette reminder

Amy Richards

It seems strange that as a society we address bathroom issues with the utmost care, caution and “cleanliness” of language when speaking with others. However, upon entering the bathroom itself, that delicate treatment goes out the window.

Last week, I entered a restroom in Bartley, and proceeded to push open three stalls before I found a toilet that seemed somewhat sanitary. Considering I am not terribly particular about where I use the bathroom, I imagine my bathroom gripe reflects that of many other students. Do we not flush the toilet out of hate and maliciousness? Do we aim to sprinkle the seat or throw our toilet paper to the side or leave wrappers about the floor with spiteful intentions? What do we make of the “sanitary” products that find a home directly beside the conveniently placed waste baskets in the ladies room? If we care for our fellow students, why do we have such a difficult time respecting our public spaces for relieving ourselves?

Although we may find that some bathrooms across campus are in better shape than others, the lack of cleanliless is ubiquitous. So pervasive is the issue that some authority has reminded Bartley-goers, “Someone must use this stall after you!” offering heed to “Please flush when finished!” These posters on the backs of stalls made the fact that I found so many toilets left already unflushed by 10 a.m. that morning all the more ironic.

As a society, we have even thought up and manufactured clever signs, like “If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie, wipe the seatie” and strategically placed them on bathroom walls throughout the United States. What malevolent individual would dare to reject such a polite hint?

It seems we’ve been committing rampant bathroom etiquette offenses for years, rationalizing our actions with excuses like, “Well it was already kinda’ gross when I got here,” or “Someone gets paid to clean it up,” subtly arrogant thoughts that sanctions our bad manners and disregard for the restroom user that follows us. In fact, dozens of conventions for bathroom etiquette have been devised through the years, to little avail.

While they may vary across households and cultures, the same basic rules apply:

Flush. If it didn’t do the job, flush again.

Inability to control the direction of urine shot is a personal fault. Clean up if you sprinkle or miss entirely.

When cognizant that the adjacent stall is fresh out of TP, politely offer some to your neighbor. No need to start a conversation, just try to make the restroom experience a positive one.

If you inadvertently clog or overflow a toilet, find a maintenance worker to help and excuse yourself for your not being at home to clog your own toilet instead. If in a rush to class, leave a polite note to deter traffic from that stall.

Finally, don’t straggle in the bathroom. Hanging out to “powder your nose” or enjoy a pensive moment might result in someone else’s inability to get the job done as they develop “stage fright” with an audience. Boys, no need to snoop in others’ business. Let’s keep it friendly, not uncomfortable.

Although I do not expect that much will change in our general bathroom behaviors, I hope that our abilities to reason as intelligible beings and our common courtesy as taught by parents and teachers alike have provided us with the necessary wherewithal for flushing a toilet. For those that have had less faith in our abilities, the automatic flusher was invented, although it seems we have yet to get even that right.

I have high hopes for our ability to become a powerful flushing machine of a university, in which we will build respect for each other while acting on our call for bathroom decency. If you happen to be on the toilet while reading this, make Villanova proud, flush it down.


Amy Richards is a senior honors, Spanish and Global Interdisciplinary Studies major from Kings Park, N.Y. She can be reached at [email protected].