By Makeda Viechweg
Illustrations By Katie Herchenroeder
The first floor bathroom is a heavy-foot trafficked bathroom in the North Academic Center building. Attempts have been made to improve its cleanliness but it still is not the most clean.
During rush hour times, between noon to 2:00 PM or right after classes finish, you will find a line of women waiting for the bathroom.
At the start of the Fall semester, the school installed automatic flush functions in each stall of the bathroom in hopes for it to be more sanitary.
The downfall with the automatic flush is that it flushes when it wants to not when you want it to.
It flushes before you wipe and then it does not flush again to flush your tissue. So, you are left dangling, shaking, and fake squatting, trying to trick the toilet to flush but it simply will not.
Some toilets’ flushes are so powerful that they spray on your clothes while flushing. Women are forced to squeeze themselves in the stall corner to avoid getting sprayed on while the toilet fills back with water in the bowl.
Squeezing yourself in the corner of the stall puts you at risk for touching the walls that are coated with long strands of hair from the woman before you. But, you already are at risk of having someone’s hair get on you when you hang your bag on the hook behind the door.
Most stalls are either missing the metal sanitary bin lid, the bottom piece, or the whole thing all together. Some bins are overflowing with waste.
Women have to do the walk of shame holding their sanitary napkin wrapped in tissue to the outside garbage in the bathroom. Some stuff it in their coat pockets and then dispose of it on their way out after washing their hands.
Other women avoid the embarrassment all together and leave the wrapped up sanitary napkin in the back of the toilet bowl or on the floor. There are a few that do not wrap it in tissue and leave it out bare in the open for the next person to see and this is the biggest concern of hygiene for some students in the women’s restroom.
“I look for the little bin on the side all the time,” says student Farija. “Most of them don’t have it or they are filthy with exposed pads and tissue.”
“That’s my main concern. That we don’t always have a place to put it,” concludes Farija.
“It’s repulsing seeing open feminine products. There should be a place for them” says Fatou K. Fatou K. prefers the automatic flush than the handle, because it’s more sanitary. “I actually prefer it than the handle one because now I don’t have to touch it,” says Fatou K.
But what needs to be automatic is the faucets and paper towel dispensers. Some faucet knobs you have to hold down while you take turns washing one hand at a time which is not the proper way to wash hands.
There is no telling how many germs are being transferred onto your clean hand when you press down the knob to wash your dirty one.
Other faucets, if you are lucky to find them, give you two seconds to wash both hands before you have to push down the knob again.
About 5-6 pumps at the paper towel dispenser gives you a medium sized piece to dry your hands. But the pump is already wet by previous hands pumping at the dispenser, which is also probably filled with germs.
Women have to hold onto their wet paper towel to open the door. The good thing is that it is one of those handles that you have to push down and pull open and not turn and pull. You get a better grip on the handle if push down rather than turn.
But the garbage can is placed far from the door, so it becomes a basketball game to shoot the paper towel in the can. If you miss the shot, nine out of ten times it stays on the floor and becomes a part of the cluster of those that missed before you.
Some goers throw out the paper towel and use their hands to open the door which is not sanitary, but if it avoids being stuck with the paper towel afterwards then by all means.
“I don’t go here. I only come to study but our bathrooms are far cleaner than here,” says a Brooklyn College student about CCNY’s bathrooms.
“I only come here because it’s a quiet place to study and I live nearby,” she says. “I try my best to not use the bathroom here.”
The automatic flushes with their operating malfunctions still a step up for the first floor bathroom but more work needs to be done.
Some women are not fazed by the bathroom conditions. They get up close and personal putting their makeup on, fixing their hair, and outfits. Others laugh and chat with their friends not bothered by the state of the bathroom.