No urinal dividers in men’s restroom causes unspoken etiquette

Juliana Discher | Staff Writer

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Illustration by Visual Editor Madison Krell

Together men stand, divided men urinate.

There are unspoken rules of the restroom that most males understand and follow; eyes forward, no chit-chat, the middle urinal is no man’s land. At Mason High School, the lack of urinal dividers—metal or plastic sheets placed on the walls between urinals—have prompted males to act a certain way. In a 2014 article, The Atlantic analyzed the dynamics of men’s restrooms and said, “The public collides uncomfortably with the private in the bathroom as it does nowhere else, and the unique behaviors we perform stem from a complex psychological stew of shame, self-awareness, and gender roles.”

According to senior Jeremy Fogel, with no dividers, there is a specific method for which urinals are open to use.

“I’m more of a stall guy,” Fogel said. “Usually if there are three urinals and two people are on the outside, you just wait and don’t go.”

Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Angie Johnston said that a 1976 study on men’s bathroom behavior reveals the trends behind urination patterns. In the experiment, scientists measured how long it took a man to urinate under different circumstances.

“The researchers found that if someone else was in a public restroom when the man came in, it would take approximately four seconds to start the urination process,” Johnston said. “If there was a urinal between the two guys, then it took around six seconds. If they were right by each other, it took about eight seconds for him to actually start. The psychology behind the experiment is that the guy is distracted by focusing on what the other individual is thinking of them, and it delays the body’s natural process.”

According to a 2008 study conducted by the Journal of Health Psychology, men list genital size among their top body concerns, along with height and weight. This adds more complexity to an already uncomfortable public situation.

The projected cost for adding urinal dividers in every restroom at Mason High School would be around $350 per divider for purchasing and installation. Assuming two dividers per bathroom and 15 bathrooms, the cost to outfit the school is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. According to Assistant Superintendent of Operations Michael Brannon, the addition of urinal dividers could be a possibility in the future if explicit need is shown.

“As a district, we consider any need that helps people feel comfortable and helps people advance their school day and education,” Brannon said. “It’s a possibility for urinal dividers to be purchased in the future. If there is a need for them and if people expressed it, we would consider putting them in.”

Fogel said Mason’s male restrooms would be further improved with the implementation of urinal dividers.

“It would expedite the bathroom process because more people could go at once,” Fogel said. “Almost every other public place has urinal dividers for a reason, so why shouldn’t Mason have them?”


Girls weigh in on lack of dividers in men’s restroom, appreciate privacy

Girls, “urine” luck. Plastic stalls make for a peaceful restroom situation.

According to sophomore McKayla Peebles, the girl’s restroom is a private sanctuary compared to the boy’s restroom.

“I feel like the bathrooms are very private,” Peebles said. “I’ve never been violated or felt any extreme level of discomfort at Mason. Guys probably feel uncomfortable without the urinal dividers because they’re self conscious about somebody making fun of them, even though they don’t really need to be.”

If there were no stalls separating the toilets, Peebles said this would be a serious issue for girls.

“I wouldn’t go to the bathroom at the high school,” Peebles said. “I would just wait until nobody else was in there. I would be really scared.”

According to a 2014 article by The Atlantic, “Until the 1800’s, there was little expectation of privacy while using the bathroom. Economic prosperity and religious notions of modesty made the desire for a private space in which to do one’s business more widespread.” Nowadays, most developed countries have private bathrooms.

Senior Ellie Morrissey said she feels sympathy for the boys’ lack of urinal dividers.

“I don’t think the privacy level is a problem in the girl’s bathrooms,” Morrissey said. “Apparently in the guy’s bathroom it is. I had no idea that it was like that for guys and I just feel bad. I’m sure they deal with it, but it’s still an inconvenience.”

Peebles and Morrissey both said the bathroom experience is better alone.

“I prefer to go the bathroom with nobody in there,” Peebles said. “If there is somebody else in there, I just wait until they leave.”

AP Psychology teacher Angie Johnston said the lack of urinal dividers makes her appreciate her privacy even more.

“I’m thankful for this reason that I’m a female and have my own private area to go to the bathroom,” Johnston said. “While it’s a natural body process we all do, it’s human nature to desire privacy when going to the bathroom.”