To Poop or Not to Poop: Should That Really Be a Question?

There is one question that divides student bodies across the nation. Should you poop in the school bathrooms?
In a world full of unspoken topics, theres an important topic often left undiscussed.
In a world full of unspoken topics, there’s an important topic often left undiscussed.
Jersey Bilyeu
Pooping in High School: The Nay-Sayers
Public restrooms are too open-concept for some users to feel comfortable. (Matt Wood)
Public restrooms are too open-concept for some users to feel comfortable. (Matt Wood)

In an Oct. 26 Instagram poll, 28% of @jfktorch followers voted that they are willing to poop in school restrooms while 72% voted they were not. 

“I don’t like to poop in the school bathrooms,” senior Safal Bhattarai said. “Not something I do, not something I want to do, not something I’m ever gonna do.”

An opinion shared by a majority of Kennedy students.

“I am not a fan,” junior Sonja Woerner said. “Everyone around you can hear it and you know it. The fact that you’re willing to broadcast that you are pooping is very strange.”

Pooping is a sore subject when it comes to the high school body, many students worry about those around them hearing their bowel movements. But something to consider, what if one has to go?

“If I ever have to poop, I’ll either hold it or tell my parents to call me out,” Bhattarai said. “I’ve done that. I’ve taken lunch breaks early at work just to go home and poop. I don’t [poop] in public, you couldn’t pay me.”

Pooping in High School: The Rule Breakers of Society

While a mostly negative response, there are still Kennedy students in support of taking care of business.

“I used to be really shy about it, mostly because I used to have an irrational fear of public toilets. But now, I’m a firm believer that if you gotta go, you gotta go,” junior Amelia Gilbert said. “Especially because I get periods every month, my cramps will make me have the urge to use the bathroom, and I’d rather relieve the cramps than be worried about some random people in the bathrooms judging me.”

This perspective brings up a good point in the widespread poop debate. At the end of the day, pooping is a normal human function.

“I think it’s just because of the fact people get grossed out with pooping and public bathrooms in general. In our society, pooping in public bathrooms is considered uncleanly or impolite and something you should wait until you get home for,” Gilbert said. “But when you’re at school for seven hours or more, sometimes you have no choice. That’s why we should get rid of the stigma.”

The stigma created by society forces us to hold everything in and sit in discomfort during a seven-hour school day. But what could be at the core of this belief?

“Probably because the amount of people that skip class in the bathroom and find it weird when people come in to use the bathroom for its actual purpose,” Center-Point Urbana High School senior Delaney Jacobi said.

Large groups is an odd but common occurrence in high schools.

“If you have the right to spend all period skipping class and gossiping in the stalls, I have the right to poop,” Gilbert said. 

An alarming thing to hear indeed. Why must one feel uncomfortable taking care of business while it’s socially encouraged to skip class in a lavatory?

Pooping in College

The poop debate could spread further than Kennedy—further even than high school—to college students.

“Pooping in school is a viable option when it is an emergency, but if possible I wait until I can get home,” Iowa State University sophomore Austin Strait said.

College students seem to be unphased by the pooping debate though as they all gave similar opinions.

“I think it’s acceptable, but not ideal,” University of Northern Iowa freshman Grant Barnes said.

Kirkwood Community College freshman Andrew Frank gave a similar answer but reiterated the issue of passing time in stalls.

But I would still go if it’s like coming out and I can’t stop it,” Frank said.

The Bigger Issue At Hand

Is this issue just high schoolers being dramatic? What I have found is that the poop debate brings up a key player at hand. There is something very wrong with the American public bathroom.

“Pooping takes such a long time that when you’re in the big stalls with the gaps you feel unsafe,” Woerner said. “Like you’re being watched.”


Compared to our European counterpart, with walls that reach the ceiling and a full-length door to keep your business private, the American bathroom will have big gaps in front, to the sides and even along the door. 

“It’s like a Roman bathroom out there,” Bhattarai said. “Some guy could just walk in and peek over the stall and I’m done for. There’s no safety, no security in those things.”

A Look at Statistics and a Final Message

A blog post from One Point Partitions states that the huge gaps found on bathroom stalls are meant to indicate if a stall is vacant for other bathroom users, discourage inappropriate activity and provide easier stall access for emergencies. 

But when it comes to our own comfort level, a sample of 45 randomly selected Kennedy students found that the stalls do more harm than good. 82.5% ranked their bathroom comfortability a five or below in relation to these giant gaps. Those in the four and five regions stated they just ‘got used to it’.

Do we want to just settle for ‘getting used to’ this high level of discomfort and embarrassment? Of these, 62.2% said that they have had someone look at them through the gaps of bathroom stalls. 

This leads a huge issue in the way we think about going to the bathroom. Was it really ever about pooping at all? Or had we grown accustomed to the fear of having eyes peer at us in our most vulnerable moments? 

Fix the broken system of unsafe restrooms. Bring back pooping in public and put an end to student constipation in America.

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