In the current economic climate it’s often hard to make ends meet. This is true all of us, but also large bodies and even educational establishments. As student numbers dry up, governments cut budgets everywhere they can and donors are less likely to dig in their pockets. Faced with these challenges many colleges and universities are looking for new revenue streams. One that many universities and colleges in the USA have decided to try is naming rights for toilet stalls. Or, as our American cousins call them, bathrooms.
Rather than writing rude messages, puerile humour or vindictive messages about their exes on the toilet walls and doors, donors can pay to have their names immortalised on the smallest room. No doubt this is where some profound thoughts are formed amongst some great minds, but it does seem unconventional to immortalise your name on a toilet rather than on a statue or even a bench.
In the American state of Utah, a donation of $2,000 to the Dixie State College you can have your name emblazoned on a toilet stall. Initially this was for the toilets in a new building intended for a musical theatre troupe. Unfortunately uptake was unexpectedly slow and the building was not completed and the troupe is unfortunately out of business.
However, this isn’t an isolated effort. The prestigious Harvard Law School has opened the the Falik Men’s Room. The prestigious Boston, Massachusetts based Ivy League establishment is nothing like as reasonable as its Utah competition and William Falik donated some $100,000 to his old school in an effort to heighten public awareness of a fellowship named after his father. For a donation that size Steven Oliveira, Harvard Law’s dean for development and alumni relations, said that the organisation was happy to go along with the donor’s wishes. “We thought it was kind of tongue in-cheek and we were willing to do it,” said Oliveira.
Not all universities are quite so willing to accept donations for this kind of naming. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was apparently approached by an ex student of their’s called Brad Feld about a decade ago looking to name some toilets in exchange for a donation. They refused.
Feld was not deterred, however, and managed to get a toilet named after him at the University of Colorado in their Boulder science building. John Bennett, Director of the university’s Alliance for Technology, Learning & Society, John Bennett, approached Feld and offered him the chance to sponsor a campus toilet for $25,000 after hearing that he had been rejected by MIT. Feld lives in Boulder and agreed immediately. Obviously he wasn’t deterred by the perceived status of the toilet when it comes to having his name on the building and the college could get a lot of cloakroom suites with that money.
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