Greensprings Bathrooms: The Truth Behind the Scum

Kenny Morales, Staff Writer

I’ve been working custodial for the housing department at Southern Oregon University (SOU) for about a year now. I’ve heard many rumors surrounding the Greensprings bathrooms, from “there’s mold in there,” to “they haven’t been cleaned in years.” Damyan Mendoza, a freshmen living in Greensprings even went as far to say that “The bathrooms look as if it was in a medieval castle that had rotten away throughout the years.” I have also had firsthand experience in cleaning these bathrooms and have fallen victim to some of the rumors. So, I wanted to find out for myself, how “gross” the Greensprings bathrooms are. Here what was found:

  • Most of the Greensprings showers look in pretty poor conditions (to say the least), but aren’t as bad as they seem.
  • The Greensprings bathrooms get cleaned every week day and trash taken out on the Weekends.
  • The stalls are actually in good condition .
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  • They pass all health code regulations, are operational and completely safe to use.
  • There is no mold at all, in any of the bathrooms.
  • The bathrooms are as old as the building, which is really old (50+ years).
  • They plan to to remodel all the bathrooms, but isn’t as easy as it seems.

“The showers look as if they are covered in mold,” according to Mendoza.  Noah Hurley, Assistant Director of University Housing explained why this was for me. About ten years ago, there was a liner put in the bathrooms to prolong their lives. The liner material ended up absorbing dirt and scum more than the previous material, giving it that brown color.

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A fellow custodian, who wishes not to be named, was able to shine some more light on the situation for me. According to him, the showers had developed mold because of the poor ventilation system inside the bathrooms. The mold was completely removed and the liner was set to cover the mold stains. Now, the paint is chipping and so the showers have a mix of old mold stains, new paint and old paint showing. To help with the ventilation problem, now custodians leave the doors open and air out the bathrooms for at least thirty minutes every morning.

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“They are by-no-means perfect, but they are clean, functional, and work great.  In fact, most of the issues we hear from people involve the cosmetic look…These are what residence hall restrooms look like after being lived in for 50+ consecutive years.  Designers back in the day were very interested in function-over-appearance, so most everything was built to serve and to last,” according to Hurley.

Hurley also assured me that the bathrooms are cleaned and sanitized 5 times a week by a dedicated custodial staff. Having been apart of this custodial staff I can testify to this. On top of cleaning and sanitizing the entire bathroom 5 days a week, they also scrub the floors and walls with enzyme or bleach at least once a week. There are three, full-time pro staff employees in charge of the three wings of Greensprings and daily/weekly checklists are kept in the closets to assure that the custodians don’t miss anything.

Many might wonder why they just don’t renovate the bathrooms, and they are. However, it’s not that easy. The housing department is an auxiliary service. “An auxiliary service is a financially self-sufficient entity apart from the University and does not receive funds from the General Fund (i.e. tuition dollars), according to Hurley. They have recently renovated the first floor of Applegate, which does happen to be the show-room floor, but was one of the worst bathrooms as far as cosmetic looks, according to Hurley (The renovation only included the showers).

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The housing department was very pleased with how the showers looked after the renovation and plan to continue with more. The 2nd floor of Applegate’s bathroom will be renovated by the end of the school year and several more should be done by the end of summer.

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