Pooping in the shower is Princeton’s new normal: A letter to the heads of Princeton University| Apr 24, 2018
Imagine a crowded living space with bad plumbing, old hallways, and exposed pipes, where toilets overflow and make an unsanitary disaster, where human feces are found in the shower, urine found in trash cans, shower curtains removed as pranks, and then people of color and people of unprivileged socioeconomic backgrounds have to clean it all up.
You don’t have to imagine it to believe it. This place exists here at Princeton University, the number one school in the country.
Campbell Hall has been subject to various events in the only men’s bathroom of the entire hall. There is only one bathroom that the entire hall has to share. Three toilets, three sinks, and four showers. A bathroom that constantly needs maintenance and cleaning because of its heavy usage, and therefore leaves a burden to facilities to have to constantly maintain the bathrooms in a decent state. People may say, “Oh well, you just got a bad hall, you’ll draw into a better one next year,” but shouldn’t Princeton be embarrassed to have students living like this in their first or second year, especially since there is so much discrepancy in quality of dorms between one hall and another? It is unfair that some Princeton students get to reside in dorms that approach hotel-like quality while other students have to face situations like these.
This bathroom concern ridicules University Facilities workers, taking away the fact that they are human beings. Nowhere in their job description does it state that they regularly have to pick up human feces from the ground. It is ridiculous for anyone to have to clean human feces on almost a week-by-week basis off the shower floors. Waking up incredibly early in their homes, about an hour away from Princeton, before the sun comes out and arriving to campus to have to face feces is completely unacceptable.
Facilities does an extraordinary job of maintaining the hall clean, but it has reached the point where even the best of cleaners can’t really change the appearance. I admire the work of Facilities to an enormous extent, and I cannot emphasize how valuable they are in this community.
Who knew that at a school like Princeton, Campbell residents would have to be interrogated by the staff of Rockefeller College to figure out who created this mess? Shouldn’t a school like Princeton already have this issue resolved? Even if the school has something like seminars or talks to preach cleanliness and how to keep our facilities safe, the problem isn’t about which student is doing this and who might be behind it all, but rather how the current conditions of the hall have lead to this. Having conditions like these make it seem normal to be able to commit these horrendous acts. Just like it’s dirty in the hallways, it makes anyone think that they can do the same in the bathroom or elsewhere in the hall. It’s ridiculous that it’s already become the “normal” thing to be accustomed to these bathroom disasters. The people who are committing the crime are equally as guilty as the University culture that allows this to happen in the first place.
The situation at Campbell Hall, at its core, is a public health issue. Toilets clog and overflow with feces, paper towels, plastic bags, and urine, covering the entire bathroom floor and staying like this for an entire weekend. Feces is found on the shower floors and stays like that for nearly a day; even if it is cleaned up, microscopic traces of feces still remain and are unsafe for those who shower barefoot. Toilet seats are incredibly dirty to the point where you cannot sit on them, even if you wipe them down. There is no ventilation in the bathroom as there are no open windows, and as the bathroom is located in the basement, there is barely any air circulation from the bathroom door.
How can Princeton be okay with housing students here? Even if there were no bathroom problems, the building itself is incredibly old and not renovated, with exposed pipes that may be a hazard, unfinished painted walls, sinking staircases, only one water fountain for an entire hall, an old common room with limited resources, no laundry room, exposed wires, chipping paint, a dirty appearance, leaking pipes, and water damage, among other things.
I demand action and a response from the University to change this and resolve this situation — not by interrogating students on who’s responsible but by renovating the hall to avoid all this in the first place.
The University and students alike should be outright embarrassed to have a hall like this on campus.
Daniel Bracho is a first-year from Caracas, Venezuela. He can be reached at email@example.com.