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How many times have you (I’m talking to the men, of course) walked into a restroom with a line of urinals — sans partitions — and quickly run to an available stall?

All restroom users expect peace and quiet while they are using the facilities. As rising Engineering junior Vivek Sharma puts it, dividers “give individuals privacy that is expected in bathrooms.” So why not have urinal separators in all male restrooms?

Men’s rooms are not a place for social hour. Unlike women, who flock in groups to the restroom, guys believe that it is a solitary affair. Every once in a while, however, an overly friendly fellow will attempt to chat with a neighboring user. Urinal partitions discourage discussion by blocking neighbors from full view.

In addition, wild spray can affect surrounding users. Partitions prevent this unsanitary effect. Some men do not have the best aim. Without anything to block a drifting stream, urine can soak any surface, including people. Dividers block wayward currents, keeping all users safe and clean.

Separators also provide extra wall space that can be employed for advertising room. Men need something to do while unburdening their bladders. Why not use their time to make money? Dividers can even be used to add splashes of color to an otherwise blindingly white room.

The most important advantage of a urinal-partitioned washroom is its male comfort factor. When a man walks into an occupied restroom, he separates himself as far as possible from other users. This male segregation minimizes the likelihood that wandering eyes will find their way down to a neighboring man’s business.

Men will use urinals in close proximity only if there is sufficient separation between each person; partitions provide this requisite space. Having dividers allow men to focus on the task at hand, rather than worrying how they compare. Men use restrooms to urinate, not compete, after all.

This comfort factor makes washrooms more efficient for large crowds. Barring an exceptional excess of full bladders, lavatories will often not fill to capacity without partitions.

As for you skeptics who cite cost as a factor into placing these partitions in between urinals, let’s do some math. First of all, no one’s looking for a masterpiece — I certainly don’t need a Mona Lisa of separators. So all we really need is a piece of wood —plywood will do here. I can buy a 4x8 foot piece of plywood at Home Depot for $18. From that piece, I can make four 2x4s. That’s $4.50 per partition.

Then I’ll need some screws and joints to connect the wall and my partition. I can get these for a couple of cents apiece at any hardware store. I’ll round it up to $1 per separator (and that’s a very high estimate). And I’m going to take a power screwdriver as a freebie.

I could even paint them: spray paint is about $4 a can (and that’s not even the cheap stuff). That’s certainly enough to paint the four partitions I’ve already made — we’ll round to $1 per divider.

Add it all together and I spent $6.50 per separator. Considering urinals run for over $100 on the cheap side, that’s quite a small investment with a large return of happiness. And if we consider my advertising idea, I’m sure I’d make returns soon enough.

Now let’s take a brief moment to consider the worst of all situations in a restroom: the urinal trough. These things should not exist in any washroom. Troughs break all restroom etiquette and are completely unsanitary. If we wanted to relieve myself in some ice, we would do so in some winter snow. (You can’t even write your name in a trough!) Let’s leave the troughs to feeding animals.

Ladies: if you think us men are being whiny, take a moment and think. How would you feel if stalls had no walls around them? Putting herself in a man’s shoes, rising Engineering sophomore Shenali Parikh said, “I don’t know how much is visible when men use the urinals, but I’m sure everyone has seen someone with wandering eyes … If women are given privacy, then men should be entitled to the same privacy.”

Hopefully, the next time I see you in the restroom, gentlemen, we can enjoy a relaxed environment where all I have to see of you is your face. Thankfully, this is not a huge issue at Penn. Most washrooms do have this vital feature. But it is an issue in the world at large. And that needs to change. For all the restaurant and shop owners, for those who run airports and stadiums, for those building public restrooms: keep your washrooms up to pee code.

Dan Nessenson is a rising Engineering junior and The Summer Pennsylvanian Editorial Page Editor from Berkeley Heights, N.J. His email address is

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