When my son was looking at schools, most tours included a peek into the dorms. Not his school though. You’d have to wonder why a school would not show prospective dorms – at least I did. I decided that it must be because they were too heinous to view.
At someone’s suggestion, I googled “dorm interiors” for his school and found some pictures that somewhat supported my theory. Not heinous exactly, but the rooms looked only a small step up from prison life – with cinder block walls and thin, tired mattresses.
“He’s not going to care what his dorm room looks like,” my husband predicted. “If it’s out of this house, he’ll be ecstatic.”
That was pretty much true. We arrived at his dorm building, found his Spartan, concrete hovel and he instantly treated it as if it were the Taj Mahal.
On my third trip out to the car to haul in yet more stuff, I noticed a sign on the bathroom door across the hall. It was the universal icon for Man. And right beside it, the universal icon for Woman.
Co-ed restrooms? Men and Women showering and pooping in the same room together? There must be some mistake! How could any good come of that?
I got the bathroom key from my son and scurried inside. Three stalls, three showers, two sinks, one urinal.
Suddenly it became very clear to me why there are no dorm tours. This was the university's dark, little secret.
My youngest child went to a highly progressive preschool that had no toys at all in the classroom, only wooden blocks. At first blush, I considered this outlandish, but the teacher – who hailed from the renowned Little Red School House – explained in painful detail the philosophy behind this decision. Every teacher in this preschool had a Master’s degree in Education that included a practicum in Wooden Blocks, and they could tell you why, educationally and developmentally, a block-only classroom was a superior educational model.
I really want to call my son’s university and have someone – anyone – provide me with a similar rationale for co-ed bathrooms. But not only do I lack the nerve, I highly suspect there isn't one.
Besides writing about this and complaining to anyone who will listen, I spend an unseemly amount of my day googling phrases like “why do dorms have co-ed bathrooms?” And then I lose myself, sometimes for hours, reading the commentary from students.
All of which say precisely the same thing: “It’s weird for a week, and then it’s no big deal.”