On average, a person spends around a minute and 30 seconds using the restroom. Meanwhile, in VSU, it would take an eternity to find a functional restroom to do your business in.
This is an exaggeration, yet arguably one that is not far from the truth. Students' usual activities at an institution known for its "very sakaon" treks and building locations include walking and possibly climbing [going to their respective departments]. They necessitate one of the basic needs of individuals after a long walk: access to clean and safe restroom facilities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the university, where the so-called 'comfort' rooms can be a source of discomfort.
The issues surrounding campus comfort rooms are complex and multifaceted, unavoidably permeating almost every university in the country. After all, VSU caters to thousands of students and employees every single day, so an allowance of forgiveness is given when it comes to maintaining such facilities, even if this is greatly abused most of the time.
But do we really have to settle on the untidy site of these restrooms as Viscans?
Many of the university's comfort rooms are simply neglected. They could be filthy, reeking with strong odors and unsightly multi-colored splotches. Most of these are also poorly lit, or devoid of basic amenities like a clean mirror, hand washing soap, clean water, and even ventilation. Stall doors are also damaged with broken locks that may allow intrusion of one’s privacy . This not only creates an unpleasant environment for users, but it can also be hazardous to their health. Pathogens can live on moist surfaces for a reasonable amount of time, allowing them to prey on every person that uses the restroom.
Accessibility is another factor. Comfort rooms are not widely distributed throughout all school buildings.Some are not granted the privilege of having one, and even if they actually have one, the mental contemplation to proceed usage due to uncertainty of its cleanliness is always a major factor.
Unfortunately, many students and departmental faculty and staff in the university have to deal with this dilemma every single day, with little action taken to address the issue. It’s bizarre to think that clogged toilets, leaky faucets, and broken flush systems are not uncommon in public settings, but given the comparison of the number of beautification projects and new infrastructure being built on campus, how come the toilets and latrines are not given the same ardor?
As VSU focuses on improving and developing new infrastructures on campus, it must also take a comprehensive approach to restroom facilities. Taking a bid on fixing these does not rely on aesthetics, but a prime responsibility to every Viscan’s health and safety. This may entail conducting an immediate and comprehensive audit of existing facilities to identify areas for improvement, such as maintenance and cleanliness of existing restrooms. Budget allocation for its rehabilitation is already a no-brainer. We are not asking for bidets, touchless faucets, or any advanced bathroom contraptions–that’s idealistic, but maintaining cleanliness and fixing visible issues that cause discomfort to the Viscan community is the only thing that matters. We could start with the defective water supplementation to each restroom and punishing vandalism of any kind– the kind that most students are clear masterminds of.
The responsibility of keeping these restrooms functional does not solely rely on department aides. Students must also be held accountable for the maintenance of our comfort rooms. Fines are easily idle in nature, so the student’s involvement in cleaning (even if such service may be old-fashioned) can inculcate a sense of obligation towards everyone’s sanitary welfare. Basic restroom courtesy is when we properly flush everything down the toilet, and when we are cultured enough to make it clean for the next people to use. When the stall has a sign saying “OUT OF ORDER” written in bold black pentel pen marker—take the hint. Stop using broken comfort rooms just to ease the call of nature, it only makes things worse.
All institutions have a responsibility to ensure that their comfort rooms meet the needs of all members of the community, whether they are students, faculty, or staff. The administration owes us better facilities so that we can thrive and learn in a healthy and conducive environment, and addressing and fixing these dysfunctional restrooms urgently would be our greatest relief. As of now, we’ll just have to tally how many more Viscans would have to hold off the call of nature, in favor of not using another dirty toilet.
After all, they're called comfort rooms or rest rooms for a reason. If they're not those, what are they?