Potty Talk: Toilet philosophers

Created by Asli Kocak

Philosopher Robert Pirsig famously asked, “What is quality?” Clearly, the Tufts University Department of Philosophy does not care. Its headquarters, Miner Hall, houses two options for bathroom goers — or students tired of hearing about Marxism (kidding, kidding, Tufts students never tire of that). The two spaces offer a study in contrasts.

For a homier experience, we recommend venturing downstairs. Just outside the bathrooms, there is a comfy, if dated, sofa and a well-proportioned kitchenette. The coziness is not fully appreciated, however, until you enter the bathroom. Seemingly constructed by P.T. Barnum himself, this lavatory’s Seussian web of piping and its turn-of-the-century wainscoting might convince you that those shoes in the stall next to you belong to Ralph Waldo Emerson himself.

The stalls are the perfect size for a preschool. They are of such a magnitude, in fact, that they do not even afford you the opportunity to pull your phone out of your pocket, perhaps a gentle push from the Department of Philosophy to forego the usual pre-wipe doomscrolling in favor of contemplating the difference between a toilet and a bowl.

Upon finagling yourself out of your cell’s confines, you might reencounter the wainscoting and think to yourself, “Huh, what strange wainscoting.” Next, you’ll turn to a wall more crowded than Dewick at 11:49 a.m. on a Tuesday due to “supply chain interruptions” and a “well-publicized labor shortage.” (Well jeez, maybe it’s because you lay them off every summer.)

Once you’ve read all of the provided literature on the wall, you pivot to a sink that threatens tetanus. Its forceful and ill-distributed flow is likely to cause a good deal of splashback — not exactly how you want to look as you return to meta-ethics.

As you exit the bathroom on the men’s side, you’ll notice the disemheaded body of a man — or, as the sign proudly declares, a “me” — and realize that you should have known something was amiss from the get-go.

For those who would prefer not to feel like a mime-in-training, there is the main floor’s all-gender restroom. It is, to put it lightly, cavernous. Oddly, there are three people chained down facing the wall and a light shining across from them. A strange setting for a toilet.

Aside from the Platonic re-enactment, however, we have no serious gripes. The bathroom is as Spartan as Thoreau’s cabin, with tiled white walls and floors the same russet color as the rust eating away at the lower floor’s sink.

As you sit on the toilet, you can enviously gaze through the large, unobscured window and see engineering students milling about the SEC, revealing where all the money for repairing humanities facilities has gone. On a clear day, they might look back at you and laugh as they scarf down their Kindlevan paninis while all you have to rest your laurels on is dope wainscoting and a well-proportioned kitchenette.

Miner Hall downstairs: 2/10 it led us to a Nietzschean conclusion: God is dead. +1 for the character though

Miner Hall all-gender: 5/10 — large but cluttered with an existential crisis


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