Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, June 14, 2024

Potty Talk: Barnum's last act

Barnum Hall is known for its status as the only nice building available to humanities students, but lesser known are its anomalous bathrooms. Renovated from 2018–19, Barnum’s visionaries seem to have had a more naive view of what a bathroom could be than the rigid designers of newer buildings like the Cummings Center did. Instead of being designed for efficiency, Barnum’s bathrooms are an ode to idiosyncrasy.


This bathroom is so cavernous that I spent about 15 minutes screaming just to marvel at the impressive echo. It is as if someone was told they had a set amount of space for a bathroom, made of a list of about four things that often go in bathrooms, arranged them randomly and then forgot to finish the job. The most fascinating omission is the lack of a mirror — a nod to P.T. Barnum’s famously ascetic lifestyle.

The only decoration is a single sign detailing how to wash hands, but without a mirror I was not able to verify that I was accurately following instructions. This barrier may cause people to refrain from handwashing entirely.

It fails to live up to the Barnum family name but has plenty of room for improvement, which means it will get a hopeful 6/10.


While it is technically quite private, the abundance of open space made me slightly uncomfortable 6/10.


The bathroom I am reviewing is on the second floor of Barnum, making it convenient for walks around campus, but only if you have time to traverse the Barnum stairs and deal with the signs in Barnum that have arrows suggesting multiple paths to your destination.

This bathroom also has a shower, but much like the showers discussed in last semester’s column, it lacks the necessary amenities. It is stocked with neither soap nor shampoo, making it more of a decoration than a real convenience. Additionally, the floor of the shower is flush with the floor. Dear reader, if you were not aware, being flush with the floor is to shower design what unsliced bread is to bread design — an unmitigated disaster. If left running, the shower will undoubtedly flood the bathroom. The architects tried to mitigate this effect by placing a drain in the shower section of the bathroom. Having a drain outside of the shower is no replacement for proper design! 

Pretty good location and the option of a (however flawed) bathing experience merit this bathroom a 6.5/10 on convenience.


This bathroom gets credit for having a little protrusion on the toilet seat which can be used to place it in either sitting or standing position. Additionally, the paper towel dispenser is of the variety that only needs to be touched if it malfunctions, but that is a reasonably likely occurrence. Still too much touch for my liking. 3/10.

Too strange to be truly avant-garde, this Spartan shower room gets a 5.4.