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Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Best Campus Bathrooms: A symphony of alleviation

Exploration of restrooms provides a glimpse into the very heart of UC Davis

The history of man could be split in two distinct eras: before indoor plumbing and after. Many would point to the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel as the pinnacle of human ingenuity, but the true peak of cleverness lies elsewhere. It lies in the corner of every house, apartment, shop, park and office. It is right under our noses, used constantly and without remorse. I am speaking, of course, about the humble yet absolute infinite concept that is the bathroom. At UC Davis, we have been blessed with many an elegant latrine, some of which may rival even Buckingham Palace in their splendor. Perhaps, if we are speaking truthfully, they do not. But some of them are pretty nice, and an exploration into which ones specifically excel provides a glimpse into the very heart of UC Davis. 

   To begin, let us make note of the outright worst bathrooms on campus, testaments to the hubris of man and the awful things that come with it. First is the bathroom on the second floor of Cruess Hall, the Design Building. As a Design Major, I spend vast stretches of time at Cruess: sketching, measuring and cutting — all activities I adore. What don’t I adore? Walking into a bathroom that is pitch black because the light is activated by movement, but which always takes a few seconds to register, leaving you literally and figuratively in the dark. The only thing worse than the lack of sight is the pungent smell. According to Tristan Gibson, a fourth-year design major, “It smells like someone drank six cups of coffee and then pissed on the floor.” 

Another bathroom to avoid is the bathroom in Wellman Hall — dingy, smelly and crusty, it takes the prize of the most basement-esque restroom. And, of course, avoid the ground floor Olson Hall bathrooms, which are allegedly haunted by the ghosts of Aggies who did not pass their mandatory UWP courses. 

  To focus on the bad, however, would be going against everything UC Davis and its complex waste disposal system stands for. So let’s just jump right into the very best, the creme de la creme of what our school has to offer in terms of lavatory relief. 

   For many, California Hall represents everything a bathroom should be, and nothing less. Clean to every last detail, with sprawling mirrors and facilities that actually work, California is an example of a bathroom that just knocks all other bathrooms out of the park — in Socrates’ World of Forms, this is the bathroom waiting for you. 

“California Hall is the place to be, and the place to pee,” said Natalie Wright, a third-year international relations major. It’s also reportedly stocked with menstrual products, a welcome embrace for those that are in need of such items. 

Although California Hall houses a bathroom that is simply good, it misses some of the personality of other places to go and freshen up. A restroom that embodies the pure vibing out so prized among latrines is one located in Veihmeyer Hall. You know the one. Nestled underneath a staircase, a colloquial Hobbit Hole, this bathroom is outfitted with a sink, toilet, shower and urinal. It’s as if you’ve escaped the crowded campus of UC Davis and are suddenly transported to a better, simpler time. You are the ruler of your domain. A conqueror among undergraduates. You are the sole resident of the coziest bathroom on campus. 

The next entry may be controversial due to it’s intense stench of male sweat, embodying the very essence of “I am a man, please spot me.” The men’s restroom at the ARC, on the first floor directly across from the rock climbing wall, is one that stunned me upon first entry. The mint green tiles and lockers lining the walls resemble a Wes Anderson film. The beautiful pastel palettes of a modern-day auteur inside a place that smells like bottled testosterone is surprising and mesmerizing. The facilities themselves are quite nice as well — numerous and clean.  

They say ethics in journalism is dead, and that is exactly why the next lavatory mentioned is one located in Lower Freeborn Hall, right around the corner from the office of The California Aggie. Because of its location, this bathroom is hardly ever used, and it retains the atmosphere of a facility that hasn’t been touched in what feels like half a century. The mood is one that evokes images of the 70s with its warm lighting, pink stalls and just a little nose candy on the bottom of the mirror. If there was ever a bathroom where you were encouraged to wear a corduroy blazer, this is the one. 

The last truly great UC Davis restroom resides in Surge III, or, as it is known among students, The Grove. Specifically, the lavatory immediately on the left by the main entrance. A masterclass in great restroom design, with one toilet and one urinal, it emphasizes getting your business done on your own time. Just as well, it is perhaps the only restroom that locks from the outside. This means you have the entire place to yourself, if only for a moment. For some, the lack of ornamentation leaves something to be desired, but the true beauty of the restroom is in its simplicity. A vintage orange hue adorns the doors and floor, but not much else. The absence of decoration is what gives it it’s artistry and charm. 

UC Davis is a world-class institution, one that inspires passion among those who attend and those who wish to. In many ways, what makes it so great are the little things: aspects that might go unnoticed unless explicitly highlighted. In my eyes, the bathrooms are one of those aspects, hiding in plain sight. They are used everyday, but rarely mentioned. They are the sites of relief, of tears and smiles, of both tragedy and farce. It is high time the students of UC Davis acknowledge just how good they have it. It is time for the song of the campus bathrooms to be sung. 

Written By: Ilya Shrayber — arts@theaggie.org



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