There is a Spartan feel to the men’s restroom in Smith Union. It has three reddish-brown stalls, three sinks and two urinals. The floor is an industrial sort of teal and remarkably clean for one of the most heavily trafficked bathrooms on campus. The walls are almost bare—unadorned except for the sheet of paper hanging above the leftmost urinal, advertising Sustainable Bowdoin’s strategies for being green.

Last time I used one of those urinals, I was reading that piece of paper for what felt like the third or fourth time. The poster boards in other parts of Smith are a veritable orgy of ever-changing color. 

They advertise poetry readings and lectures, parties and candidates for student government. Yet despite this flashiness, these posters are rarely read. 

When people walk down the halls of Smith Union, they are almost always headed somewhere. They do not have time to stop and peruse advertisements, or if they do, they choose not to look. 
But on at least three separate occasions, I have read the same tips on how to recycle.

I am a senior this year, and I recently had my first meeting with the Career Planning Center. It went very well. I spoke with a lovely woman named Sherry Mason about my future, and told her that I had always wanted to be a corporate lawyer. And she began to tell me about several alumni who had realized my dream, including our President, Barry Mills. 

In three years, I had not managed to discover that President Mills had been a corporate lawyer, and at that moment I realized something very important. Though I knew, and have always known, that Bowdoin has an extensive and varied alumni network, I didn’t know anything about it. 

And I began to wonder, what would be the best way to bring information about alumni to Bowdoin students? 

Where can we post information about our distinguished alumni, such that it will be impossible to ignore, such that everyone who passes will take the time to read, and not only to read, but to absorb? 

The answer, of course, is in our campus’ public restrooms.

Imagine if every stall and every urinal on Bowdoin’s campus contained a brief biography of a different Bowdoin alumnus. Alums from all over the map—in both a geographic and career sense—could tell us how they came to be doing what it is that they do. 

And students would really read them because they would have little choice. 

Maybe, they would find some of the bios fascinating or motivating, prompting thoughts about their own futures in a serious and thoughtful way. 

Perhaps some of the featured alumni would provide phone numbers or email addresses so interested students could contact them and begin having productive conversations about the world outside the Bowdoin bubble. 

These profiles could help students to set goals for themselves—to imagine their lives after Bowdoin and strive confidently toward them, secure in the knowledge that they have a powerful support group to fall back on.

I believe that a program such as this could change the way students think about life after college. 
I also believe that many alumni would find this to be a refreshing and fun way to connect with the Bowdoin student body. 

The benefits of such alumni biographies are potentially vast and there is no better real estate for them then the College’s under-utilized bathroom walls. And only slightly less important, it would give me something to read while I pee.