Communal bathrooms present many negative issues for their users, along with creating efficiency of space. In the past it was standard practice in student housing design to incorporate communal bathrooms that include sinks, toilets and separate shower facilities. These facilities require users to enter with a “shower caddy” full of their toiletries needed for bathing. I personally was not too bothered by this arrangement while living in student housing, but it did present some obstacles that others strongly disliked. One of which is the fact that after your shower, unless you get fully dressed while still in the bathroom, which is made difficult by the wet floor and cramped stall, you must walk through a (usually) co-ed hallway in your towel to return to your dorm room. While this is fine for some people, others experience stress in this situation. Beyond being naked and in a towel walking down a fairly public hallway, there is the issue of crowding. On any given weekend night, I often found myself waiting for a shower. There were 5 or 6 shower stalls in the girl’s bathrooms on our floor, and when all the girls were trying to get ready at one time the showers were in high demand. This was also a huge issue during Sorority Rush in the fall, when a shower schedule had to literally be put up in writing.
More importantly than convenience and comfort is security. This was not an issue when I was living in the dorms during the 2005-2006 academic year, but this year security breaches in the dorms have created a lot of fear. The swipe card entries are the only real form of security, so if an unwanted visitor follows a resident into the building, they now have access to any unlocked rooms as well as the bathroom/shower facilities. This is an issue that requires tighter security within the building in order to eliminate unwanted visitors and the harm that they may cause.