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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Is Your Floor Tub-Free?

<rleton’s campus is a historical landscape, and each object that composes it both holds a story and serves as a prop to the present. Carleton’s bathtubs are a prime example; they tell of a time when folks took baths as well as compel the imaginations of present standing showerers to envision the rich microbiotic life that thrives at their porcelain bottoms.  

“Although tubs were all we had in my Grandparents days, they have declined in use as people started to prefer showering,” writes Maintenance Services Master Plumber Brian Nordland. “The tubs in these buildings were put in at a time of transition when tubs were considered more of a luxury to soak than a necessity to bathe.”

When did bathing go out of style? Perhaps college students prefer the immediacy of standing showers for the sake of time efficiency, but Carls smoke too many cigars while tossing discs around on the Mini Bald Spot for one to expect reason to dominate a preference for luxury.

In addition to being an object of exquisite taste, the bathtub could potentially serve an environmental position as well. A single use of a standard 40 gallon bathtub uses less water than a 6 minute shower. Perhaps increased bathtub use would reduce water use on campus, or at least help residents visualize how much water daily hygiene requires.

“I don’t know if it would be appealing to people, we have such a shower centric culture, but it is an interesting idea.” writes Sustainability Assistant Sarah Lukins. “I think maybe people would be deterred by the fact that so many other people are using the tubs, so they might not want to bath in them.”

The concern for hygiene in the bathtubs dominates the campus dialogue.  When asked if he would ever use a tub for its intended purpose, Myers resident Michael Happ ‘17 of Mendota, Illinois, responded, “I would have to go in and scrub it down first.”

Bathing in Burton is especially problematic; there, the bathtubs have been outfitted with shower heads and curtains. “they tend to be used more heavily for showers than the normal square shower stalls,” said 2nd Burton RA Mitch Campbell ‘14. In hybrid baths, the specific fear of plantar warts that culminates in the common practice of shower shoe wearing could deter residents from wanting to sit in a tub.

Despite the prevalence of residential showering, bathtubs are not without present day use. “They’re useful for a lot of other things than taking baths,” pondered Happ. The baths provide an appropriate level of comfort for late night conversations. When a Myers resident decided to use the tub for hair dieing, the chosen tub appeared to be the scene of a murder. In a more extreme case, a group of Musser students reportedly skinned a deer in a bathtub last year.

Though Carleton bathtubs seem ridiculous at first glance, mysteries remain below their murky waters. As the campus ages, such remnants of the past may fade away.

For those interested in bathing like it’s 1959, the tubs probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. A word of caution: bathing suit use is recommended.

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