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Published: Thursday, 6/21/2007

Flushing Away My 'Modern' Sensibility


9 AM

I was not a full-out Child of the 60s, but I was no Goldwater GOPer, either.

In truth, I was just thismuch too young to be anything in the height of the Summer of Love. If you were a 12-year-old girl in Toledo, Ohio, the best you could do was listen to that Scott McKenzie song on AM radio and imagine putting flowers in your someday-west-bound hair.

But if I did have any sensibilities or inclinations 40 years ago as a tweener, these were definitely more hippie than not. I was a free spirit in training, I told myself. I didn t lack nerve -- only freedom.

All of which makes it harder to explain why now, as the mother of a near-college-age offspring, I am so unable to comprehend let alone embrace -- the whole unisex-bathroom concept that exists in today s dorms.

Much as I hate to age myself unnecessarily, let me just say that from my freshmen year at a liberal arts college in Wisconsin, I remember a blue-haired woman named Mrs. Kipe our dorm mother. She was there, living her cozy life in her twee little first-floor apartment, to make sure all the girls got along, to make sure no one s music was too loud, to make sure the shifts of front-desk student receptions rotated smoothly, to make sure the doors were locked at night on schedule and to make sure no boys remained behind.

She was not there, I guarantee you, to make sure that female and male students shared the bathrooms politely

Touring the campus of a lovely liberal-arts college earlier this week, the sweet young admissions office tour guide i.e., the person walking backward in front of our small group breezily walked us all through a dorm. She barely made mention of the All Welcome Here bathroom, so unremarkable was this to her.

But all the parents trailing behind (me included) gently shook our heads in a mutually acknowledged failure to understand.

It s not that I object, exactly, to coed bathrooms. It s that I, frankly, just don t get it.

Hey, I read I Am Charlotte Simmons .

I'm not the only soul alive who find college coed bathrooms a trying concept, as demonstrated by this thread in a discussion about Williams College.

One thing's sure: I never ever thought I'd have a pang of nostalgia for Mrs. Kipe...

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