The Potty Diaries

Not all toilets on Main Campus are equal. Here’s where to go when you’ve got to go.

Not all toilets on Main Campus are equal. Here’s where to go when you’ve got to go.

etween going to classes, studying, meeting up for group projects, pulling TECH Center all-nighters and enjoying $1 Yuengling bottles at Maxi’s, full-time students spend hours on Main Campus.

Jan21_Cory Popp_Living_Worst Bathrooms2
CORY POPP TTN The bathrooms in Barton Hall rank among the least clean, with students complaining of broken flushers, lack of handsoap and lighting. Other low-ranking bathrooms include the facilities in Paley Library and Wachman Hall.

Freshmen and some sophomores have the luxury of being able to walk – or run – back to their dorms if nature calls. But soon, off-campus living will have them searching high and low for decent bathrooms. It isn’t always possible to trudge back through the depths of North Philly and its surrounding neighborhoods just to go to the bathroom in the comfort of one’s own apartment.

“I don’t like using public bathrooms. I don’t trust them,” Gena Poulard, a sophomore public health major, said.

Poulard heads back to her room in the 1300 residence hall rather than any of the campus restrooms because, she said, “it’s too much effort to use public bathrooms.”

It’s true, Temple has more than its fair share of less-than-spotless cans. They should first be pointed out, so they may be avoided – at all costs – in the future.

The Worst

The general student-consensus is that Barton Hall holds the worst bathrooms on Main Campus, particularly those on the third floor. The third floor has two stalls, which aren’t many, considering it is used by people in fourth-floor classes, too, since there is no bathroom on the fourth floor.

The flushing mechanism isn’t the typical lever or button. Instead, it’s a joystick of sorts, which requires several clockwise rotations by foot – and one should always use the foot for sanitary reasons – before flushing commences. Due to their level of flushing difficulty, these commodes often go unflushed, which can mean for unpleasant discoveries by subsequent occupants.

Additionally, the third-floor Barton bathrooms do not have lights. Whether the lights exist and are broken, or they possess no lighting fixtures at all, is a mystery. But the circumstances remain the same: The only light present comes in through a giant window. On a cloudy day or anytime after 4:30 p.m. November through February, it’s dark. One can determine that perhaps the university hasn’t updated the lighting and flushing features because of their historical significance.

Despite the heavy traffic, the bathroom is often without hand soap. And there is only one hand dryer, even though there are two stalls and three sinks.

Paley Library is a big facility and seems to have increased in popularity since adding comfy chairs to the front windows. Yet, despite the library’s size, its bathroom has two stalls in the women’s room – yes, two. It’s crowded and cramped, especially for students with their backpacks in tow, who may not want to run the risk of them being kidnapped from their comfy chairs while they’re gone.

The second problem is odor. The ground-floor Paley Library restroom may smell the worst of all the on-campus bathrooms.

Plus, if it weren’t for the stench, and the many signs that lead to the bathroom’s location, students might not find the bathroom. First-timers may feel like they’re trying to get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

The Paley restrooms do offer a step up from Barton Hall’s, though, because of their lights and the added bonus of an ATM directly outside their doors.

The ground-floor Wachman Hall bathrooms nearly always have waiting lines. Regardless of the time students go, those stalls are nearly always filled, which isn’t hard to believe since there are only two stalls in the ladies’ room. Also, they are awkwardly situated, so visitors have to shimmy out the front one in order to get past the inevitable person at the sink.

There are two sinks, but one of them is located inside the front stall. So, those unaware of Wachman-Hall toilet etiquette actually use this in-stall sink while the line continues to grow. For future reference, use the outside sink.

The one benefit to using the Wachman Hall restroom is having the option of paper towels or electric dryer. Visitors must ask themselves, “Do I care about the environment today, or am I in a hurry?” (Most would probably say the latter because of the line.)

Maxi’s has two unisex bathrooms that both are home to fruit flies. Who knows how or why the fruit flies came to reside in the bathrooms, but whatever the explanation, the small insects are unavoidable after a couple beers. A word to the wise: Rely on the age-old crouch, foot-flush, hand-scour and door-handle-with-elbow routine.

Gladfelter Hall makes the Worst list just for most students’ inability to find them. Where are they? Do they exist? Or are they just a myth, like the unicorn? On a quest to find them, the elusive locked bathroom may be discovered with a sign reading, “report to room such-and-such for the key.” Maybe Gladfelter bathrooms are for VIPs only, to keep out the ruffians.

The Best
While the crappiest bathrooms – no pun intended – on campus are well-known, the best ones have been well-kept secrets. After pleading and bribery, fellow students revealed their personal favorites.

The following facilities made the cut into the “Best Bathroom” category, based on three components – cleanliness, privacy and user friendliness. Furthermore, all the lavatories listed have solid door locks and back-of-door hooks for handbags and backpacks.

The first hidden gem is on the ground floor of the TECH Center. Take a right instead of going up the stairs, and it is near the Computer Services Help Desk. There’s occasionally one other person inside, but for the most part, it’s empty. Even better, it’s kept pristine. No raunchy smells here.

In keeping with the TECH Center’s new ergonomic theme, the bathroom features automatic flushers and faucets. It’s like pooping in the future.

If privacy is your thing, go to the bottom floor of the Student Center. Take a left in front of the bookstore, go past the post office, and make another left at Parking Services.

There, students will find a huge bathroom, with the lowest traffic of most on-campus bathrooms. It’s very quiet – almost too quiet, like you might get kidnapped like an abandoned backpack in Paley. It isn’t as clean as the TECH Center lavatory, but it is a far cry from the mess lurking at the library.
Junior theater major Len Luvera said this is one of his favorites.

“I always walk further to get to the cleaner bathroom,” Luvera said. “If I could snap my fingers and be in any bathroom, it would be that one in the [Student Center].”

If it’s too eerie for you, another Student Center choice is on the third floor, above the food court, to the left past the double doors. These are both clean and rarely used, depending on the day – Temple Student Government, Main Campus Program Board and other group offices are located on the third floor.
Sophomore Amman Kifle cites a third bathroom in the Student Center as his pick.

“The bathroom by the game room is pretty good,” he said.

The toilets found on the ground floor of 1810 Liacouras Walk are also worth a try. Take the first right past the security desk, and you’re there. This bathroom boasts automatic sinks and flushers, low traffic and relative cleanliness.

“I think they’re so clean because nobody knows they’re there,” said Tim Brodwater, a senior broadcast journalism and theater major. “There’s sometimes a piece of paper towel on the floor, but there’s never anybody there.”

Until Temple updates some of its worst bathrooms, keep this list in mind when compiling next semester’s schedule, and plan accordingly. If you have the option of taking a political science class in Barton or Ritter, opt for Ritter.

Michelle Provencher can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. Just loved this article! Very useful information and I thoroughly enjoyed laughing on this Tuesday morning.

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