Monday, November 13, 2006

When nature calls


Over a month ago I jokingly mentioned that the second-best reason for me to maintain matriculating at NYU was due to the Tisch Hall computer lab opening at 6:30 in the morning. I’ve yet to mention the best reason.

Until now.

You see, the men’s restrooms on campus have saved me from many a delicate situation. Unfortunately there are few public bathrooms in New York City, much less wheelchair accessible for someone like me. Hence I treasure the bathrooms at NYU even if they are not kept in the best and cleanest condition.

Last week NYU’s student newspaper came up with the top 5 and bottom 5 bathrooms around campus. Though the authors only rated the women’s restrooms, their rankings were pretty good. Nonetheless, I am going to go ahead and rate my personal best and worst of the NYU bathrooms based on somewhat separate criteria such as accessibility and ease to enter and exit.

Crème de la crap

5- Silver Center, 8th Floor. In the article the authors complain about the terrible smell in the bathroom of the Silver Center yet they neglect to mention on which floor it is located. This makes a huge difference (see “Avoid like the plague” pick #1) since there are bathrooms on at least 3 floors of the building. Anyway, the 8th floor bathroom located by the hallway connecting to the Waverly Building is medium-sized and can be difficult to get to when students leave and enter classes en masse. Nevertheless, the spacious handicapped stall includes a freestanding grab bar which makes it easy to transfer on and off the toilet. The sinks are pretty easy to use and the paper towel dispenser isn’t located too high. All-in-all, an average restroom.

4- 19 University Place. The main problem that I have with this bathroom is that one gets a hernia opening the bathroom’s two large heavy. Yet once inside the bathroom is spacious with plenty of room to take care of business. Kudos for the angled mirror to help short people and those in wheelchairs. Though the bathrooms are on the second floor they are easy to access since the building’s lobby is small and the elevators are always speedy.

3- King Juan Carlos Center, 1st Floor. The King Juan Carlos Center is where I’ve attended most of my graduate classes in the years I’ve been at NYU. Thus, the building has a special significance for me and I feel it is vastly underrated on campus. The KJCC is easy to enter, has a small lobby with a vaulted ceiling, a great auditorium, and a patio that is an absolute godsend for springtime lunches away from the usual hustle and bustle. It is the ease of access which is the greatest advantage of the 1st floor bathroom at the KJCC. It is only a few yards beyond the security desk and in an alcove off the side of the lobby. There’s no need to use elevators or meander through a maze of hallways; just go up the small ramp, though the double doors, flash some ID, and walk a few feet to do what needs to be done. There’s just enough room to comfortably maneuver though the bathroom is very small with 2 urinals, one sink, and one handicapped stall. The toilet is at an appropriate height, the hooks are not set very high, and the bathroom itself is very warm during the winter. A very good restroom in a not very well-known building located on Washington Square South.

2- Kimmel Center, middle floors. To repeat what I said before, the original article form the Washington Square News makes the error of not differentiating between bathrooms on different floors. In the case of the Kimmel Center there isn’t as big a disparity between bathrooms as in the Silver center but some restrooms are better than others. It’s best to skip those located on the 4th Floor where the E & L Auditorium is located or the 2nd Floor where the computer stands and several lounges are found. It’s best to hit the middle floors where all that can be found are small offices and classrooms. Admittedly, the article is spot-on in that for the most part there really is nothing to complain about. The restrooms are large and very clean. The handicapped stall is by far the biggest of the bathrooms on campus and definitely easy to use. The sinks are at a good level and there’s always soap on hand. The only problem is that getting to the bathrooms may take a few minutes by the time one goes through security and uses the elevators.

1- That building housing the auditorium where The Bottom Line used to be: I’ve only gone their once, but it did save me from a slightly embarrassing situation. On Commencement Day last May I lined up near the front of the line of GSAS students at the corner of West 4th and Greene Street. After a half hour of waiting for the processional to start and overall anxiety I had to go to the bathroom. Desperately. I asked a friend to save my spot on the line and I quickly darted into the building where The Bottom Line once stood and ran to the restroom after fumbling for what seemed like an eternity to get my ID out from under my robe. Luckily the bathroom was located just a few feet from the entrance and it was clean and modern including a handicapped stall and lowered urinal. There was a nice and neutral odor and the bathroom was pretty clean. The fact that the bathroom was small did not detract from its many positives. My time in the restroom was only a minute but it saved me from having to cut the line and running over who knows how many people during the processional.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Palladium Residence Hall, 3rd Floor: Great location near Union Square and Irving Plaza but security is very hesitant to let non-Palladium residents through when it’s not business hours.
  • 726 Broadway (Health Center): Individual unisex bathrooms though the door locks sometime fail.
  • 240 Greene Street: Hard to access since it’s in an office area, but very clean and comfortable.

Avoid like the plague

5- Meyer Hall, 1st floor. My first undergrad class on campus was located in Meyer Hall- a dull, bland building built in 1971 off of Broadway. The course- “Conversations of the West: Antiquities and the Renaissance”- was one which I enjoyed thoroughly and opened my mind to learn how to be astute and very analytical. There was never an overly dull lecture and the class was a treat to look forward to. The bathroom in the building was certainly not a “treat’ by any stretch of the imagination. Hard to find, dark, diminutive, and dank. Not to mention that it was always freezing cold in the winter. A substandard bathroom that was always a pain to use.

4- Tisch Hall, Lower Concourse. Even though the bathroom is amongst the biggest on campus it is never kept in a clean condition. Enter the restroom at anytime of the day or night, weekend or weekday and one will find newspapers, gum wrappers, flyers, and even discarded food strewn over the floor. The toilets are constantly clogged up unless you go to the bathroom early in the morning when nobody’s around. Even if the toilet does flush one has to run out the stall unless you’re in the mood to get your clothing damp from water splashing out.

3- Cantor Film Center, 1st Floor. Though access from the street is not too bad, the main problem with the 1st floor bathroom at Cantor is the difficulty in entering and exiting it. For reasons unbeknownst to any sane person the floor inside the bathroom undulates like a bad roller coaster ride. It is a small climb to get to the door to the handicapped stall which is annoying but even worse is the precarious downhill from the stall towards the sink and then a steep dip in front of the door. Worse is the tight squeeze cause by the door not opening fully and hitting the wall on the other side of the hallway. Cantor’s 1st floor bathroom is impossible to use when it’s raining or snowing outdoors since the floor is too slick and irregular even for the most surefooted of people.

2- Bobst Library, Lower Levels. When I was an undergrad at FIU I adored using their library for many reasons (which I will discuss in more detail in a later post). One of them included the ease and accessibility of the bathrooms which are located on all the floors. Sadly for a library as cavernous and busy as Bobst the bathrooms are absolutely heinous. There are no accessible bathrooms in the entire building aside from the lower levels and the 5th floor restroom that is always locked. In spite of extensive renovations of the lower levels nearly 2 years ago the bathrooms continue to be decrepit and unsanitary. Surely a museum can be opened on the lower level dedicated to the dirt and grime that have collected for decades on the bathroom walls. Their laughingstock of a handicapped stall barely has enough room for a pogo stick, much less a wheelchair. The bathroom door is a lovely 5 ton slab of steel which requires a superhuman effort to open it. The odor is reminiscent of a summer day ages ago at Fresh Kills. An absolutely terrible bathroom, but there’s one which is far worse believe it or not.

1- Silver Center, 7th Floor. Ah yes, the 7th floor men’s room at the Silver Center. The worst of the W.C.s on campus. Where to begin with all the things that are wrong with it. For starters we’ll go with terrible location as it is near the hallway connecting the Silver Center to the Waverly Building and just a few feet from the usual throngs of students entering and exiting the elevators. Then there’s the size of the bathrooms which is reminiscent of the cubicles found on an airplane and the narrow stalls that practically forces users to enter and remain sideways. For that matter, it is sometimes best to stand sideways in the stalls since they almost always neglect to have toilet paper and don’t expect to leave the bathroom with clean hands since soap is usually at a premium. The lights don’t work above the handicapped stall. Though it is understandable that bathrooms are not the best-smelling places the odor of Silver’s 7th floor men’s room would even cause a waste treatment worker to wince and squirm. Lastly there is the personal anecdote from my undergrad days about a decade ago when I went to the 7th floor men’s room on a Friday afternoon and had to wait for about 20 minutes to use the handicapped stall. Why so? Because two gentlemen decided to engage in some afternoon delight and apparently didn’t think that anybody would intrude on their tryst. Naive fool that I was I decided to wait it out and after they were done and left the bathroom I tried to go in. But my need to go to the men’s room rapidly went away once I got a good view and smell of the mess they left behind (pun sort of intended). Ah, the lovely memories.

Dishonorable mentions:
  • Gallatin Hall: Heavy doors and diminutive stalls make Gallatin’s restroom hard to use.
  • Tisch School of the Arts, 1st floor: Easy access from the lobby but only when the lounge is not busy and the bathroom itself is quite dirty.

I have never been in the bathrooms selected by the article as best and worst which is why I did not rate them. Most of the time the abovementioned bathrooms have served their basic purpose and have gotten me out of a jam like the time I stumbled drunk on a Saturday night into D’Agostino Hall a few years ago and got permission to use their men’s room. Better a shitty bathroom than no restroom at all, perhaps.

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1 comment:

Jonathan C said...

top 3 in queens college:
1. powdermaker hall, 1st floor: new and shiny. stalls are wide, there's actual toilet paper, and the floor's not wet with an ominous liquid.
2. student union, lower level: although used heavily by alot of clubs, it still manages to keep itself clean with a non-crap-like smell
3. Science Building, 1st floor: so its not as sparkly as the others, but at least we CS folks like to clean up after we're done doing our "thing"

bottom 3 in QC:
1. ANY bathroom in kiely hall: yes, it reeks of crap, there's no paper, it looks like a public high school stall, and the doors have no locks
2. Rosenthal Library, 2nd floor: where everyone goes for midterms/finals. the floors are wet, the sinks dont work, and when its hot, it reeks of backed-up fecal matter
3. did i mention kiely hall? yah i did...they are the suck