September 16, 2022

WEIRENS | The Big Red Bathroom Ranking

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Dining, dorms, classes and the like of Cornellian life have been painstakingly judged and ranked for generations. However, a neglected, yet crucial, facet of the Big Red experience has yet to be formally reviewed: our bathrooms. I seek to fill this void by elucidating to the public my ranking of Cornell’s best, and worst, places to conduct our business. 

Worst: (From subpar to terrible)

5. Schoellkopf Field: For a stadium, the bathrooms at Schoellkopf Field aren’t that bad. The women’s room is a typical below-average experience. However, all men whom I talked to when writing this article immediately and passionately expressed hatred of the trough urinal system at Schoellkopf. “I made the mistake of going there after convocation last year,” Tomas Beariault ’25 bemoaned. “Never again.” Although acknowledging the practicality of such a system, users are disgusted with the lack of privacy and unexpected farm-like feel of their visit. 

4. Malott Hall: Eyewitnesses, short and tall alike, complain that the toilet seats are too high. The former business-turned-math building is old and ugly, with bathrooms that are in a constant state of grunginess. There’s a broad counter space to place your bag, but it’s never looked clean enough for me to actually use. 

3. Willard Straight: The condition of these bathrooms could be slightly more excusable if not for them being in such a critical location. Cornell students require a far superior bathroom when encountering the aftermath of Okenshields. It’s so small — and for no reason. Willard Straight is a huge building. Yet, I’m always opening a door into someone or getting a door opened into me in this bathroom. As I heard from Joey Armstrong ’25, the toilets in the men’s room are never flushed, and the urinal setup provides no privacy. You could read a textbook through the transparent toilet paper in Willard Straight. The day I was unfortunate enough to visit wearing overalls, the stalls were so incredibly narrow and short that the straps dipped into the toilet water. 

2. Baker Lab: The real reason I quit pre-med. There’s never toilet paper on the roll, but there is toilet paper everywhere on the floor, and only of the very thinnest quality. Busted stall locks, creaking, lopsided doors. Based on cleanliness alone, Baker Lab ranks the worst. Quite similar to a frat annex bathroom, actually. If I pretend I’m at a party it doesn’t feel quite as dreary.

1. Olin Library Basement: From a holistic perspective, I believe that it’s safe to say the Olin basement bathrooms are the worst bathrooms to be found at Cornell University. Nick Wilsey ’25 reports that, “One time, I went there, and every single toilet wasn’t flushed.” An impressive (but not uncommon) feat, as it is a very long line of toilets. The worst part of these bathrooms, however, isn’t the fat roaches, or the filth, or the stench, but the smothering air of tension and gloom — much like the rest of Olin’s basement. I just try to disassociate whenever I’m forced to use it, and I recommend readers do the same.

Best: (From great to fabulous)

5. Martha Van Rensselaer: With good vibes overall, MVR’s bathroom is clean, modern and conveniently located. Its lone downfall is the sensor-activated dryers next to the soap dispensers, which sometimes activate prematurely, blowing soap everywhere and spraying you in a gooey geyser. However, its many virtues outweigh the occasional unexpected shower.

4. Milstein Auditorium: Artistic and quirky, like the rest of the AAP building. “It’s my favorite bathroom because it looks like an airport and I feel sophisticated walking in there,” Nick Wilsey ’25 gushed. Floor to ceiling mirrors and flattering lighting transforms a practical experience into a classy one. The massive stalls are an additional bonus. 

3. Stocking Hall: As a student in Arts and Sciences, I haven’t paid more than a visit or two to the Stocking bathrooms. However, the overwhelming amount of love and support these bathrooms have received from almost everyone I interviewed forces me to rank them in third place. I will agree, from my limited personal experience, that they are exceptionally clean, decently empty, airy and modern-looking. An excellent place for a lactose-intolerant student to do battle with the Dairy Bar. 

2. Sage Hall Second Floor: Checks off all the baseline boxes for bathroom excellence, in addition to smelling fabulous from all the business people wearing their perfume and cologne. These bathrooms don’t get much foot traffic, but the few patrons that do frequent it are always on their best behavior in case they run into a recruiter in the bathroom. I hazard a guess that Sage benefits from being less ravaged by the undergrad hoard than other buildings on campus

1. Gates Hall: For the big red bathroom champion, Gates Hall is a clear and easy winner. These bathrooms are simply exquisite. According to Julia Sun, ’25, the “flushing power is the bomb dot com,” and has “super-fast wifi.” Sun and her friends have successfully pre-enrolled in all their classes in the Gates Hall bathroom every semester. Great lighting, plenty of space, well-stocked provisions and an atmosphere defined by sterile cleanliness makes for a blue ribbon bathroom experience. 

That’s a wrap on the facts. Just remember: Despite their unfortunate existence, the bad toilets are what make the good ones shine. Savor the nice ones and try to avoid the vile ones. Don’t get bummed if you get stuck with a subpar toilet experience. Anything on campus now is better than the Slope Day Porta Potty gauntlet. And don’t be afraid to explore — get out there, and find your favorite bathroom. It could happen any day, anywhere. Happy hunting. 

Aurora Weirens is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. The Northern Light runs alternate Thursdays this semester.