Urinals: How our infrastructure divides us

By Morning Wood Staff

Mike Mozart/FLICKR
Mike Mozart/flickr

By Chap Lipenstock

Urinals of different heights and partitions between urinals clearly represent the systemic discrimination against men at UMass.

In most men’s bathrooms, there are one or two urinals of normal height, and one that is significantly shorter. To use the shorter urinal is emotionally distressing as it makes apparent an arbitrary and uncontrollable physical characteristic in height.

“Last Friday I had to deny a guy at the door of my frat because I saw him earlier in the day using a shorter urinal,” said Craig Terson, 26, still a senior. Despite the seemingly innocuousness of the separation, studies from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences reveal that people who use the shorter urinal are “looked down on” by their peers.

The partitions between urinals further convolute the issue. A separation by height is already immoral, but to then have a barrier dividing the short and the tall from seeing each other is disgustingly wrong and elitist.

Bathroom architects have, whether consciously or not, introduced tension and derision into the lives of all men on campus. How can we expect to move forward as a species if the infrastructure we interact with tells us we are not the same?

Noteworthy too is that the Integrative Learning Center, built in 2014, is a notorious offender and instigator for the situation. For new infrastructure to feature every men’s bathroom with urinals of varying height and partitions demonstrates that the University is not in tune to the social justice issues of the 21st century, regardless of the concerned and proactive tone Subbaswamy’s many emails undertake.

Bartlett, built almost 60 years ago during segregation, features urinals of the same height and without partitions. Therefore, one could argue that while many forms of discrimination have been eliminated in American, a new one is on the rise.

Per ESPN, “1 and 4 Americans receive their sense of altruism from bathroom designs and fixtures.” For example, automatic sinks and dryers encourage conserving resources and ergo environmental protection. So with urinals of unequal height and partitions between, what can we assume the public gathers from the distinction?

Large troughs would be much more suited to reinforce equality. Every man, no matter his height, would urinate into the same sized basin and stand, sometimes even touching shoulders, to the other next to him. Andrew Zatroskany, a optimistic sophomore, noted, “that would be okay with me I guess.”

If the University is serious about creating an academic atmosphere free of discrimination, this measure will be enacted immediately.

Chap Lipenstock cannot be reached, ever. Not even if there’s a fire.