On February 4, the New York Times Magazine announced that "Ethicist" Randy Cohen would be the next in a series of layoffs. It has been reported that Cohen will take his moralizing elsewhere, probably to the public radio airwaves. In his absence, I will continue to invoke his style to address Bowdoin-specific ethical dilemmas and rules of accepted behavior. This week, I will tackle readers' questions on a single topic: bathroom etiquette.

I have a solution to your bathroom woes: the toilet seat revolution. In every public bathroom—airports, restaurants, dining halls—there is going to be pee on the toilet seat. Accepted practice is to put the seat down after you've done your business. I propose you put the seat up. Some savage will always pee on the seat, but if the seat is up by default, girls won't have to worry about sitting in pee. This idea has caused a rift between my girlfriend and me. Am I crazy or is this brilliant? Help me, Ethicist! -Daniel Chaffetz '11

Interesting idea—the problem is its execution. The only way for the revolution to take hold is if it is accepted by bathroom goers everywhere. Unfortunately, the readership of the Orient is not quite wide enough to produce the kind of change you're hoping to achieve.

I assume your girlfriend is a proponent of the long-accepted practice of putting the seat down. You correctly noted that there will always be individuals who decline to follow this rule. That is precisely what you're trying to prevent. But unlike your solution, your girlfriend has a built-in police force: mothers. From now until the end of time, mothers will hound their sons to put the seat down.

But your solution could be implemented by technology. There have been few innovations in bathroom technology and design in centuries. George Costanza famously observed that there were no developments in toilet paper in his lifetime: "it's just paper on a roll, that's it. And that's all it will ever be." Few alterations have been made to toilets since the invention of indoor plumbing. Sure, there's the automatic flush and now self-cleaning Japanese toilet, but nothing has truly changed the way "Everybody Poops" (1993). To realize your vision, America needs a toilet seat that automatically lifts. If the practice is automated, there is no undue burden placed on one gender.

Write to Kohler. I think they're your only hope.

At the Kosha Dillz concert at Mac House on Saturday night I encountered a dilemma often faced at Bowdoin: single-sex, single occupancy bathrooms. If the men's bathroom is occupied can I use the vacant women's bathroom? -Name withheld '11 (male)

I tend to believe that the etiquette of using a single occupancy bathroom designated for another gender depends on location. If you encounter single-sex single occupancy bathrooms at a four star restaurant, I would not use the restroom designated for another gender, if for no reason other than women in furs might ask the maitre d' to sterilize the seat when they see a man exit the ladies room.

In general, it is ethically permissible to use a vacant single occupancy bathroom designated for another gender if you plan to use it respectfully. Drunkenly peeing on a Mac house seat is a no-go.

The reason single-occupancy bathrooms are often designated for a single gender is to promote cleanliness, rather than to prevent potential bottlenecks.

By using the women's bathroom, you're not exacerbating a problem, you're just creating a potentially awkward situation. Awkward situations are outside my area of expertise.

In 2007, NYU held a conference on the public restroom called "Outing the Water Closet." The panel's findings were recently published in a book titled "Toilet" (a title the library might need to add to its collection). In it, Harvey Molotch argues that unisex bathrooms would solve many of the problems with public restrooms worldwide.

Maybe Bowdoin should make the switch and bring an end to the dilemma altogether.