Imagine this: You are staring down the clock, hoping the minutes will fly faster, but the hand remains still. You tap your foot on the ground and try to focus on the words coming out of your professor’s mouth, but you can’t take it anymore. You have to pee right now, but you already know what your professor is going to say. “Can’t it wait until the end of class?” or “Can you wait until the end of the lecture?” You’re not alone in this frustrating dilemma.
I have been in more than one class where “having to go” was vocally frowned upon. The professor thought students getting up was a disruption to class, or they were worried the students might miss important information while away. Both of these points may or may not be a valid complaint in regards to students using the bathroom, but I would argue that a classroom full of adults should be in charge of their own bodily functions. It is not only perplexing for me to find professors that feel the need to question, discourage and intimidate students trying to exit to use the restroom, but grossly controlling. It is a misuse of your power as an educator to feel the need to put your students on the spot in front of a classroom full of peers. Questions like “Can’t it wait?” or “Is it an emergency?” are demeaning to students, who put forth a lot of money and hard work to be in your class. Whether or not you approve, they are peeing on their own dime. You are asking them to be physically uncomfortable holding in their own urine so that you can finish your next PowerPoint slide unmatched by any movement that might catch a student’s attention.
So, to pee or not to pee? It should never be a question. You know when you’ve “gotta go”. Professors may control your grades, but they do not control your bladder. Professors who are uptight about students using the bathroom: consider what you are asking the next time you feel the need to question and belittle students when they need to use the restroom. We deserve bodily autonomy in your class and in the stalls.