Man vs. Bowl 2: The Flushening

Where to have a crap attack on campus


Editor’s note: This is a follow-up piece to an article published in 2015 called “Man vs. bowl,” a ratings rundown of bathrooms along the Academic Spine.

For some, the threat of having to use a dirty public bathroom instead of one’s own tastefully curated and cleaned porcelain palace is the stuff of nightmares. They shiver at the thought of smelling those unidentifiable smells or having to flush for their precursors.

And so, they carefully plan their days out to avoid ever using an on-campus bathroom.

Eventually though, everyone will find themselves having to use a public bathroom. Maybe they decided earlier to be a little more adventurous with their lunchtime burrito. “Let’s make things spicy!” they said to themselves. What seemed like a good idea at the time has now forced them to abandon the sweet comforts of their own bathrooms at home.

Luckily, UB’s sprawling academic complex features several options in bathroom style. For now, let’s focus on these four: the workhorse, handling large amounts of students; the oddball, serving up an endearingly weird toilet time; the secret, hiding in plain sight in big buildings; and the academic, a bathroom from people who are too stressed to notice how bad the bathroom is.

The review of these bathrooms follows four parameters. First and foremost is comfort. If the toilet seat feels like sitting on a cold slab of concrete, you probably should just hold it instead. The second is privacy, because no one likes to be reminded how public their bathroom is. The third –– and for some, most vital –– is cleanliness. The final parameter is aesthetic, meaning an assessment of the artistic achievements of the room. How true to itself is the bathroom? It’s just as important to pull off the sleek look as it is to pull off the dungeon look.

The oddball: Fronzak 267

Comfort: 3/5

Privacy: 3/5

Cleanliness: 4/5

Aesthetic: 5/5

Fronzak’s main hallways are colored white and green, and the entrance way into the main second-floor bathroom looks no different. But the minute you open up the second door, everything is navy blue. It looks like a completely different building.

But maybe, that’s the point.

Perhaps the humble bathroom designer thought, “Who wants to feel the same vibe in their bathroom that they get from their classroom?” Perhaps they decided this bathroom would be a transcendent experience for all who enter, taking them away from their mundane routine into something new and fresh.

On the other hand, maybe they just didn’t think about matching the color scheme with the outside hall. It’s possible the architect designing the building rushed through the bathroom portion. That’s probably more likely, but either way, Fronzak 267 is a true oddball worth checking out.

The workhorse: SU 161

Comfort: 3/5

Privacy: 1/5

Cleanliness: 2/5

Aesthetic: 3/5

Tucked away in a busy corridor between the Student Union and Knox Hall, this bathroom is a pragmatic place to poop.

Most students would pass SU 161 on average at least once a day, making it a convenient piece of utilitarianism. While it doesn’t have much going on inside past the basic purpose of a bathroom, it gets the job done and often has fully functioning toilets, urinals and sinks, with restocked paper towels.

The central location leads to its low privacy rating. You’re almost never alone in there. I recommend wearing headphones to block out your potty peers, if that’s the kind of thing you worry about.

The number of students moving up and down the narrow hallway presents a challenge when leaving. If it’s a busy time, it can be tricky merging into the flow of traffic without awkwardly cutting someone off. But if speed and convenience are your top factors, you can often do no better than SU 161.

The academic: Lockwood 111

Comfort: 2/5

Privacy: 4/5

Cleanliness: 1/5

Aesthetic: 4/5

In Geoffrey Chaucer’s seminal work “The Canterbury Tales,” the character of the Clerk cares little for anything else besides his education. He spends all his money on books, leaving himself dirty, emaciated and generally falling apart.

The Clerk is the Lockwood 111 bathroom.

In the education dungeon that is the first floor of Lockwood Library, nobody is thinking about aesthetic or vibe. The only things on these students’ minds are studying, essay writing and slipping GPAs. So when they need a bathroom, they go into the decrepit and dirty depths of a bathroom no one bothers to think about.

The paint is chipping off of the stall walls, there is toilet paper all over the place and the floor is always sort of wet, but none of that really matters. Those who find themselves in the Lockwood 111 bathroom aren’t thinking about a clean bathroom. They only have minds for academia.

The secret: Capen 7

Comfort: 2/5

Privacy: 5/5

Cleanliness: 3/5

Aesthetic: 3/5

Before we finish up our journey through UB’s plumbing fixtures, I’m going to fill you in on my conundrum.

There is a secret bathroom in Capen. As a journalist, it is my sacred duty –– pun somewhat intended –– to keep the public informed. However, as a member of the bathroom-using community, I felt conflicted about exposing the secret bathroom. Is a secret bathroom printed in black and white for all the university to see even a secret bathroom anymore?

But then, it dawned on me that nobody ever reads articles all the way to the end, right?

So this one’s for you, loyal reader. You made it to the end, and you have your just reward for it. For you, there is a bathroom waiting.

Turn down the hallway on your right as you approach Capen Hall from Knox. It is mostly filled with utility supplies, not really the kind of place a typical student would find themselves. But in there, you’ll find a very special bathroom. I won’t ruin the mystique by describing it. Just go there now and take in what one user described as “The secret s-----r club. Shhhh!” on the stall wall.

Dan McKeon is the copy chief and can be reached at and @Dan_McKeon_