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It’s a Suite Life: Community vs Suite-Style Bathrooms

I am a senior at Grove City College and over the past four years I have lived in three of our five main female residence halls. Freshman year I lived in Mary Anderson Pew (MAP) North, as most freshman women do. Sophomore and junior years I lived in MAP South, and this year I am living in MAP West. South and West are both suite-style residence halls, meaning that most of the rooms in these buildings are attached to one other room with a bathroom in the middle. North has community style bathrooms.

I have loved my experiences in both of my suite-style rooms as well as with community bathrooms. I have no clear-cut preference between the two, as they have both been very different and yet great experiences.

Pros of Suite Bathrooms:

  1. Convenience

There is no getting around it, suite-style bathrooms are convenient. Midnight bathroom trips are easy and I am back in bed before I am even fully awake, and being able to carry on a conversation with my roommate while I do dishes or fill our water pitcher is awesome.

2. Privacy

This one is kind of tricky. Yes, there is slightly more privacy in suite bathrooms, but I am still sharing with 2-5 other people, so it is not uncommon that more than one person will be in the bathroom at one time. Grove City College suite bathrooms are unique and nice in the respect that the toilets are still enclosed in stalls, so someone can be in the stall while someone else is in the shower with no problem whatsoever.

3. Bonus Friends

Suite-mates are your bonus roommates. You will likely see them more often than many other people on the hall, since you are sharing a bathroom, and brushing your teeth at the same time everyday allows a certain kind of bond to develop. Suite-mate relationships come in many different forms – some people become best friends, and some people remain friendly acquaintances, but there is always a unique relationship between suite-mates.

Pros of Community Bathrooms

  1. Bonus Friends

Similar to suite bathrooms, the people who you meet in your community bathrooms can become your best friends. Community bathrooms present the unique opportunity to chat with people who you otherwise would never even meet and develop close friendships while you are performing your normal bathroom routines. Before college I never would have thought of the bathroom as a social place, but since leaving the community bathrooms I have really missed meeting new people while doing makeup or doing dishes.

2. No Clashing Schedules

In community bathrooms you don’t have to coordinate with suite-mates and roommates for who is going to shower when. In an entire year of living on a community bathroom hall I only had to wait for a shower once, and that was after a particularly sweaty FitWell (physical education) ended for the day. You can blow dry your hair before your 8 a.m. class without angering a roommate who’s still sleeping, and flushing the toilet at 2:30 a.m. is not going to wake anybody up.

3. Cleaned for You

Community bathrooms are cleaned by the housekeeping staff here at the college throughout the week. I never quite figured out their cleaning schedule, but they did some form of light cleaning in our community bathrooms nearly every day of the week and did a deep clean one or two times a week. I never felt like the bathroom was dirty, and I didn’t have to schedule in time to clean it myself.

Cons of Suite Bathrooms

  1. Cleaning

This is only a minor con. Students in suite-style rooms that have only two rooms attached to a bathroom (so mostly only the women’s suite-style rooms) are responsible for cleaning their own bathrooms. The school provides all of the cleaning supplies that we need for us, so we just need to worry about actually using them. There are many ways to work out a cleaning schedule with suite-mates and roommates, but this year my suite decided that each room would take turns cleaning the bathroom once a week, and it has been working well for us.

2. Schedule Conflicts

My roommate, suite-mates, and myself all have similar nighttime and morning schedules. This is a large part of what makes my roommate and me, in particular, able to share a room. This generally means, however, that several of us are using the bathroom at similar times, which is no big deal when it comes to brushing teeth or washing faces, since there are two sinks in our bathroom, but it is not unusual that we all take showers back to back and would probably take showers at the same time in a community bathroom. The proximity of the bathroom to our sleeping quarters also can be an issue when one of us is getting ready for a morning class while the others are still sleeping – it usually means avoiding having to blow-dry our hair before 8 a.m. and being very careful of not shining light in our roommates’ eyes when entering and exiting the bathroom.

3. Less Spontaneity

I love talking to people and I love spending time with the women on my hall. This is significantly easier to do in halls with community bathrooms for obvious reasons. People have to be much more intentional about opening their doors or interacting with the people they live around in suite-style halls than they would in community halls.

Cons of Community Bathrooms

  1. Less Privacy

You are rarely alone in a community bathroom, which can be fun from a social aspect, but there are definitely times when you just do not want to interact with anyone and community bathrooms can make that a difficult thing to do. Community bathrooms do have double curtains in front of the showers, which means that walking around in nothing but a towel is not a necessity (though, our single-gender residence halls make that an option for those who prefer that).

2. Hand soap

This could just as easily be a pro of community bathrooms. Hand soap is provided for you in community bathrooms (paper towels are provided for both community and suite bathrooms). While this is certainly more convenient, I personally get really excited about seasonally scented hand soaps and have loved getting to choose my own for my suite bathroom. Sometimes people will put fun soaps in community bathrooms, but it gets used a lot faster than it otherwise would.

3. Bring Your Towel

(I am kind of grasping at straws at this point…I love community style bathrooms!)

In community bathrooms you have to remember to bring your towel from your room to the bathroom. You actually do not necessarily have to carry your toiletries to the bathroom, because the residence hall bathrooms at Grove City College all have shelves for students to leave their shower caddies in the bathroom, which is very convenient.

So there you have it!  Both community bathrooms and suite-style bathrooms have their pros and their cons, but you are able to have a great experience in either one!  If given the option, I would recommend living in a place with community bathrooms for your first year at college in order to have more opportunities to meet people and to avoid unnecessary conflicts with roommates and suite-mates about the bathroom, and then consider living in a suite-style bathroom in your later years of college if you so desire.

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