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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

SDH men’s room just might be fatal

Other than my residence’s bathroom, my most frequently used restroom on campus is likely the basement men’s room in South Dining Hall. Spending between five and seven hours in The Observer office once a week drives up this location’s utilization in comparison to others (After all, there are few other easily walkable destinations when you want to stretch your legs at 3 a.m.). Which is why I was deeply troubled to find a posted notice outside the bathroom’s open door Tuesday afternoon.


In addition to the bolding and underlining, “door open” was also written in red. But we at The Observer don’t believe in pretty colors.

At some level I’m not surprised. The South Dining Hall men’s room is objectively disgusting. It smells like noxious fumes. It is at least 15 degrees warmer than the rest of the building. The ground slants downwards towards an inexplicable drain — the necessity of which is troubling — located in the middle of the floor.

Actually, come to think of it, the entire basement is disgusting. I’m virtually sure water seeps through the floor — there is no other way to account for the occasionally sopping wet carpet in the broom closet … er, conference room … that The Observer Notre Dame News Department uses for its weekly meetings. I probably should not mention that we at The Observer not only churn out a killer paper five times a week, but we’re also killers in the sense that we’ve taken out at least one office mouse in our illustrious history. Did I mention we work less than 50 feet from Grab ’n Go?

But that sign still left me rattled. Is the bathroom gross? Yes. But potentially deadly? I never even considered that possibility.

Two concerns fill my mind. First of all, bathrooms are supposed to be private places. Usually, they’re closed off to the outside world. It makes me mildly uncomfortable that the door absolutely must be left open, according to the bold, red, underlined type. What would happen if, say, a privacy-minded Observer ND News Editor closed it? The desperation indicated on that warning points to potentially fatal consequences if the door is shut.

Second, the presence of the phrase “proper ventilation” really does not inspire confidence. At first, I read this portion of the sign charitably. The bathroom gets rather toasty — maybe an open door would cool it down a few degrees? Then I thought about what “ventilation” means. It definitely refers to air flow. But I’m skeptical the sign was put up to improve air flow; “ensure” implies a sense of urgency that “allow,” for example, doesn’t. I’m no biology major, but I’ve always been told the whole oxygen thing is pretty critical to human survival. So, if, for instance, that Observer editor were to close the door, I’m a little worried the air flow to the bathroom would be cut off. Needless to say, that’s not good.

Until that sign disappears or I get some answers, I will be leery of using the basement bathroom. That sign is just too urgent, and the problems with the bathroom just too immense. Wednesday night, unfortunately, is a poor time to reach this conclusion. As soon as I finish typing this sentence, I’m reporting to The Observer office for my weekly editing shift. This could be a long (never-ending?) night.

In other news, the bells and whistles of the Duncan Student Center are in tip-top shape, I’m told.

You can contact Tom at

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.