May I have the bathroom pass?
By Jessie Kuenzel
We have to go to the bathroom. Or rather, using the bathroom is a thing our bodies need us to do, and—despite out very best efforts—we still haven’t successfully figured out a way to sync our bladders with our class schedules. Please stop being weird about our leaving class to use the facilities. Last time I checked, we’re all adults here, and we all know that when you gotta go, you gotta go.
Thanks for understanding!
We all studied dutifully to receive our high school diplomas, slaved over college applications, and suffered through the intolerably long waiting period before we received our acceptance letters.
We have all worked hard to leave high school behind us. So, knowing that this is an institution of higher learning, imagine my confusion and dismay this first time I was reprimanded for getting up during class to go to the restroom. This is a phenomenon that, unfortunately, has become increasingly more common.
Professors often open the semester by reading off the syllabus about their policies regarding food in the classroom, absences only excused with doctor’s notes, and leaving the room during class.
They sometimes seem to forget that we, too, are adults and our time is just as valuable—and just as limited—as theirs, that we have lives outside of the walls of this college, and that sometimes there are things we just can’t control.
One of these things outside of our control is when we have to use the bathroom.
OSHA, in a 1998 memorandum for Regional Adminstrators wrote, “individuals vary significantly in the frequency with which they need to urinate and defecate . . . . Increased frequency of voiding may also be caused by various medications, by environmental factors such as cold, and by high fluid intake, which may be necessary for individuals working in a hot environment. Diet, medication use, and medical condition are among the factors that can affect the frequency of defecation.
Medical studies show the importance of regular urination, with women generally needing to void more frequently than men. Adverse health effects that may result from voluntary urinary retention include increased frequency of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can lead to more serious infections and, in rare situations, renal damage.”
If we are enrolled in a class, we want to be there. If we leave for a few minutes, chances are we aren’t just ducking out to chat with our friends in the hallway—sometimes there are situations that require us to leave, and that’s perfectly okay.
I understand that it can be frustrating or distracting for professors when people are coming and going, but it’s never a student’s job to make themselves uncomfortable or—even worse—put themselves at risk of health problems to spare a professor’s feelings.
Students may need to be leaving for a variety of reasons—from health issues, personal reasons, or the plain and simple fact that their body has just now decided to filter the water they drank with lunch—any of which can be uncomfortable to announce openly.
No one should be put in a situation where they feel like they have to reveal personal information in order to take care of themselves.
If a professor feels that a particular student is leaving class an excessive number of times, to the point where they have missed a significant portion of class on several occasions, the professor can—respectfully and privately—address the student outside of class.
There is never an instance where it is acceptable for a professor to attempt to restrict a student, or students, from leaving the room during class, or to reprimand someone once they get back.
If professors have a problem with their students leaving during class to use the restroom, they should maybe reconsider the age group they have chosen to teach, because the time where students ask permission to leave the room is back in high school.