UHall’s Two-Washroom Mystery

Written by Andres Salazar

While people know about the University of Lethbridge for its prestigious education and nursing departments and for more comical reasons like Urban Market’s infamous pink chicken, the campus itself is the ground for an incredible amount of historical intrigue. Like a museum, the U of L’s many halls and buildings represent different moments in time, with the fine arts building looking like it’s straight from the 70s and the science building symbolizing the newest innovations in the world of research. A walk through campus can take you through different times and across different disciplines. Simply put, the university has a countless number of things to look at.

However, the university can be as mysterious as it is fascinating. Mysteries and rumours are plentiful at the university: was UHall designed to be a set of jail cells? Are the old chemistry labs really just rotting away? The UofL is the home to numerous mysteries, the potentially most important one being in UHall’s B section. The fifth floor of UHall’s B section has two men’s washrooms about twenty metres apart from one another. This has caused immense speculation and concern, as people don’t know if it is due to a design choice or if it is a symptom of a larger, darker conspiracy at play. As part of the Meliorist’s top-tier investigative journalism, I decided to delve into the depths of UHall and the university’s history to discover the secret of the two men’s washrooms.

In front of the student room lies washroom B5W1, the first piece of the mystery, right in the home of the Modern Languages department. While seemingly a normal lavatory station at first glance, what makes it so particular is the placement. A mere two corners away lies washroom B5J1, on the path towards the fine arts section of UHall. What makes this so peculiar is the proximity to each other, so near to one another while there is only one women’s washroom on the same path. To begin my analysis of the matter, I timed the distance between the two men’s washrooms. At a normal walking pace, I discovered that the men’s washrooms were roughly 32 seconds apart.  Alarmingly, the closest women’s washroom to either of the men’s rooms is nearly a full minute away. This left me puzzled; is this indicative of a systemic issue connected to the university’s elite? My exploration into this topic was only emboldened after the discovery. 

My next step was to analyze the washroom’s interior specs. Shockingly, the washrooms could not be more different. The washroom facing the student room is modest, with an older aesthetic. B5W1 looks about as old as UHall itself, with old-school manual faucet levers and a paper towel dispenser with a noticeable lack of paper towels. With its gloomy lighting, old tiles and general yellowish tone, the washroom looks like an unkempt relic of the past. This is a stark contrast to its not-so-distant counterpart. B5WJ, which lies in front of a seating area for students waiting for office appointments, is a shining example of bathroom innovation and design. This lavatory station is big, roomy and bright with the latest LEDs. The first thing that pops out is the blue tiles lining the floor and how clean it is compared to the others.

All of this paints a fascinating mystery. I was puzzled, looking for an answer as to why this was the case. I first contacted the UofL maintenance team via email, with no comment coming back my way. With no clear answer, I resorted to doing my own research. The Department of Modern Languages is led by mostly women, which makes it illogical for there to be two men’s washrooms instead of two women’s rooms. I wondered if it was decided to have two men’s bathrooms as part of a resource management plan. Thus, I looked at important washroom-related data. The average toilet uses about 6 litres per flush (WaterSmart, 2023), whereas urinals are responsible for 3.78 litres (Martin & Heany, 2008) per flush. This made me conclude that the University of Lethbridge prioritized the formation of a second men’s bathroom, despite the mostly female-led department, as a way to save on water costs. 

While many might see this as an innocent decision, I say that this is the messy base to take steps towards a better future. We, as students, can demand for this extra men’s washroom to be turned into something new, something better. This space can be remodelled into a storage closet, a smaller office, or, even more efficiently, a gender-neutral washroom. At the very least, all that would need to change is the door’s signage. However, fully renovating the space can make it welcoming for any student. This new decision could suddenly make UHall’s B section into a more inclusive and inviting space, giving all students equal access to bathroom services.

Since the university opened in 1967, a lot has happened. Even in the past couple of years, we have witnessed strikes, public controversies, and buildings being erected. The campus’ history and communities have made it a hotspot for rumours and mysteries. However, these mysteries can also be the grounds for curating a brighter, more washroom-friendly future for all students. 

References

Martin, J., & Heany, J. (2008). BMP 5: Water Use by Urinals. Conserve Florida Water Clearinghouse. https://sswm.info/sites/default/files/reference_attachments/MARTIN%20and%20HEANEY%202008%20Water%20Use%20by%20Urinals.pdf
WaterSmart. (2023). Water Efficient Toilets. Regional District of BC. https://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms/wpattachments/wpID1463atID2541.pdf.

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7 thoughts on “The UHall Washroom Mystery: The Two Men’s Washrooms

    1. Erm u dont understand the importance of this as it pertains to social justice issues ther iare very important issues on campus much , More than just 5 dollars oka y .

  1. Um, 5 dollars is not much in the grand scheme of things. Think about it, by contributing 5 dollars a semester, you allow a broke university student to express their thoughts and writing skills. Gosh. You are mean.

  2. You are perhaps the most brain-dead person I have encountered in all my 32 years of life. I have lived a life full of disappointment yet you have somehow managed to lower my expectations to an all-time low. I have major bladder issues that cause me to leak at unexpected times so the closeness of the bathrooms keeps me from causing a scene. You disgust me as a person and as a fake feminist. Good day ma’am

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