Bohn Hall, being a freshman dorm, is many resident students’ first impression of their time at Montclair State University, which makes it that much more unfortunate that one of the key aspects of any living space is handled so poorly: the bathrooms.
It’s important to speak frankly about bathrooms in this context because it is something all students use. However, basic necessities are far more difficult to perform in Bohn than in any other dorm building on campus.
Communal bathrooms are a necessary evil in Bohn, unfortunately, and conceptually they’re not that bad. But in execution, Bohn Hall’s bathrooms have consistently shown fundamental shortcomings that affect the health and well-being of its residents.
For starters, cleanliness. Despite pretty much everyone who lives on campus being grown adults with the ability to vote in elections, many of Bohn’s residents seemingly need a hand with potty training.
Now, that’s not an issue with Residence Life, however, the bathrooms are so poorly stocked when it comes to cleaning supplies that it can put a bathroom out of commission for hours on end until a janitor comes around. Until then, residents are left with some paper towels and a dream to ensure their health and safety.
Then there’s the issue of the keypad locks on the door- again, in theory, not a bad idea, but in execution, leaves a lot to be desired. Each bathroom in Bohn Hall has a keypad lock to ensure that only girls can go into the girls’ bathroom, and only guys can go into the guys’ bathroom.
Never mind the increasing prevalence of nonbinary students on campus, but despite this measure, it’s been alleged on the popular Instagram page @montclairstateconfessions that men have entered the women’s bathrooms on many occasions, which is a major liability and leaves students incredibly vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault.
On the flip side, the keypads will frequently run out of battery and when they do, they lock with no method of opening them without replacing the battery. Facilities will sometimes take days or even weeks to replace the batteries, forcing students to find alternatives to perform basic bodily functions and hygiene.
Last semester, the co-ed floor that I lived on had been without a women’s bathroom for roughly a week, forcing the female students who pay $4,500 a semester to live here to either go to another floor to use the bathroom or sneak into the men’s bathroom. Again, this leaves students vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault for simply trying to utilize a basic necessity.
Returning to the issue of nonbinary students, there is no nonbinary accommodation within Bohn Hall, which raises a wide variety of issues with which bathroom nonbinary students are entitled to use.
Naturally, you could assume a nonbinary student would be able to use either bathroom, however, a female student, or a student who was assigned female at birth, may be uncomfortable with a student who is assigned male at birth using the women’s bathroom. This particular problem could be solved simply with the introduction of an outright gender-neutral bathroom on each floor, as it is simply logical that a school with such a sizable transgender and nonbinary community would safely accommodate those students in their day-to-day life.
Now, not all of these have easy solutions, but it’s still important the university takes steps to improve the bathrooms in Bohn Hall as soon as possible.
Tellingly, many students consider aspects of Bohn living to be a “rite of passage,” and not a welcoming place to live during your first year on campus.
And some of the other problems in Bohn can maintain their “rite of passage” status- the lack of air conditioning, the thin walls that make all of your neighbors’ actions into their very own broadcast and the general trials of your first experience living on your own- but I think Bohn’s residents are at least entitled to use the bathroom safely.