Lounging in the lavatory: The secret of the women’s bathroom

Rachel Strickland | Staff Writer A women's bathroom lounge complete with mirrors, table and chair.
Rachel Strickland | Staff Writer A women's bathroom lounge complete with mirrors, table and chair.
Rachel Strickland | Staff Writer
A women’s bathroom lounge complete with mirrors, table and chair.

By Elsa Buehler | Staff Writer

Guys, brace yourselves — I’m about to let you in on a little secret that us female students have known about since we first came to Duquesne.

Many of the women’s bathrooms across campus — particularly in College Hall — have a small lounge area, complete with comfy furniture and end tables, attached to their entrances. If you’re a guy, this is probably news to you, and if you’re a girl, you’ve probably never given it much thought. Either way, the fact of the matter remains: They exist.

The prevailing opinion among Duquesne females is that the lounges serve a practical purpose, mainly as a temporary storage space — a place slightly cleaner than the actual bathroom itself to set your bag down for a minute or two.

Still, the question arises: What are these lounges, and why do we have them at Duquesne? Mark Minoski, Director of Design and Construction, and William Zilcosky, Director of Building Services, Grounds and Facilities Management, were able to give some insight into the logistics behind the lounges.

Zilcosky said lounges can be found in women’s bathrooms in College Hall, Rockwell Hall and Mellon Hall, whose constructions date from 1958-1970.

The lounges, Zilcosky said, “were likely included to provide a comfortable space where women could socialize, rest or spend time in between their classes.”

Regarding future plans, Minoski said no provisions will be made to include lounges in bathrooms.

“In future buildings and major renovation projects with space requirements for department needs, I do not see dedicated women lounges being built into the space,” he said. “A common lounge space kitchenette would be more of the norm.”

Female students had various opinions about the purpose of the lounges, as well as the potential functionality of the spaces.

“[The lounges] are nice for keeping backpacks, but I would never just sit in there,” said freshman business major Patricia Hart.

“I think [the lounges] are good for people who want to fix their hair or makeup in a more relaxed setting,” said freshman chemistry major Elisabeth Latawiec.

Apart from obvious, convenient uses, some students had more specific personal experience with using the lounges.

“On occasion, I’ve used them for a quiet space for someone to sit if they’re upset,” said Rachel Williams, a junior spanish and integrated marketing communications double major. “So in that way I think they serve a purpose … So, they’re mostly just a waste of space, except for the occasion that you need somewhere out of the way to be for a few minutes.”

The general consensus from male students seems to be that they feel pretty neutral — blasé, even — about the nonexistence of their own lounges. If anything, they don’t feel slighted, but rather agree with the idea that the concept as a whole may be slightly outdated.

“I never knew that there was such a thing as a lounge in a bathroom, let alone in Duquesne,” said freshman computer science major Garrett Whitten. “I myself have never had the inclination to relax or do homework while being in the bathroom, but if there are people who would use it, then that’s a bonus for them.”

Dan Loreti, a junior history major, had similar feelings.

“It doesn’t really bother me that the women’s room has lounges,” he said. “I don’t really see the purpose because in my mind, the bathroom is not the best place to hang out and chill with friends. But to each their own.”

Freshman John Mauro Gloninger, an environmental science major, found the idea of lounges in bathrooms somewhat disgusting.

“I find couches in bathrooms to be quite gross,” he said. “I don’t bring anything in the bathroom that I don’t have to. I refuse to even chew a piece of gum in the bathroom for fear of sanitation problems. Couches in the bathroom give me the impression of a mothership for bacteria to live on. It seems to be a concept that should be out of date now that we have the science to look into this and see if it could be harmful to women’s health.”

There certainly are various pros and cons of having such lounges, involving privacy, convenience, health and well-being of students. Roommates Brionna Nelson and Candace Burgess, both freshmen, noted that the difference in bathrooms for each gender does make sense.

“It’s like bathroom culture — it’s more of a social thing for girls than guys,” Candace said.

Brionna nodded her head in agreement and added that “it makes sense that [girls] are supposed to have it. It just comes to the plain and simple fact that guys just go to the bathroom to pee.”

So, guys, the secret’s out; try not to be too jealous of the luxuries of the women’s bathrooms. And try to remember — now that you know about the cushy set up they get, it’s a bit unfair to blame girls for “traveling in packs” to the bathroom.