One recent UNM graduate spends his lunch breaks evaluating urinal privacy, toilet paper supplies and the stall graffiti of campus bathrooms.
“I want the full experience of what it’s like to use the restroom, not just to be in the restroom,” Ethan Prueitt said. “So that’s how I know that the toilet in the Hibben Center sprays water out at you.”
Prueitt, who’s employed to do data analysis for the University, spends about 15 minutes in two bathrooms per week and then writes reviews, which he posts on his blog, UNMRestroomReview.blogspot.com. Bathrooms are judged on cleanliness, aesthetics, wall art, comfort and supplies.
“I want to go to all the places I haven’t been to see if there’s a unique bathroom experience on campus, as weird as that sounds,” Prueitt said.
It started when he jokingly wrote a Facebook status about his experience using a bathroom in the Hibben Center for Archaeology Research. Many of his friends commented, telling Prueitt where they like to use the bathroom on campus. Prueitt jokingly said he would start a blog, but then the topic was so popular that he decided to actually start one. He took one of the Facebook suggestions, Scholes Hall, and wrote a review called “Presidential Poo.”
“(Scholes Hall) was as nice as I thought, but it didn’t have any personality,” Prueitt said. “That’s kind of weird, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I want to find that special space you want to go. It didn’t have that UNM flare.”
Prueitt said he’s starting on the west end of campus and moving east, reviewing one bathroom per student building. Rather than stars, his rating system is enumerated in clean toilet seats. For example, Scholes Hall got 8.5 clean toilet seats out of 10.
“I go for the look of the place, like does it look nice or is it dark and gloomy?” Prueitt said. “If they have supplies like toilet paper or soap, which there wasn’t in Mesa Vista. So I carry a little bottle of Purell with me, because you never know.”
Almost everything is up for scrutiny in a bathroom, from architecture to ventilation to hand dryers.
“Sometimes they have really big gaps in the stalls, so that loses points for the bathroom because it’s weird when you see people looking in your general direction,” he said.
But there’s one thing Prueitt said he doesn’t judge: smell.
“I try not to judge something like smells because you don’t know who was in there before you. It wouldn’t be a fair review,” he said. “If someone just destroyed it, then it wouldn’t be fair to the bathroom.”
Prueitt’s friend and fellow reviewer Hannah Becker said she first saw a bathroom review at Washington University and then wanted to join when Prueitt started his blog. She said that Prueitt’s starting a bathroom review blog seemed to be his cup of tea.
“It wouldn’t have surprised me because he has such an imagination and a creative brain,” she said. “He has a very random sense of humor that’s not very common.”
Prueitt studied political science at UNM and is applying for the MBA program in the fall, but he didn’t do a lot of writing as an undergraduate.
“I never did any creative writing or any blogs or anything like this,” he said. “I enjoy writing about things that are stupid, because then I can say whatever I want and it’s not important, so I’ve been enjoying this experience.”
And apparently people enjoy reading Prueitt’s writing. His blog had 3,900 views as of Wednesday morning, and he said he’s had people viewing it from Colombia, South Korea, Poland and the United Kingdom.
“I didn’t expect it to break 200. I thought it would be the same small group of people who wanted to read it, but it feels good, I guess,” he said. “It’s also a little sad that 1,300 people read about my bathroom experience; it’s kind of a weird feeling.”