What the Arcadian Tours Miss

By Lucy Rudman
Junior Editor

I have multiple friends that are Arcadian ambassadors. We’ve all seen them walking around campus, gowned and important, guiding groups of bored high school students or football parents, gesturing grandly and reciting their lines at our stoney buildings and natural surroundings.

They show their groups McClurg’s interior, and gesture towards the sandstone-clad academic buildings. They detail Fulford, and the quintessential quadrangle. They take them into All Saints’ or Convocation, and regale the history and the presence of God and how good it is when brethren dwell together in unity. They tend to show them a lot, the “highlights” of the campus.

But you know what they don’t show? The ultimate quintessence of Sewanee. The perfect melting pot of quirky. The true presence of clashy history and art.

I’m speaking, of course, about Sewanee’s bathrooms, in all their colorful, tiny, and vaguely outdated glory.

That’s right: the bathrooms.

I’m not talking about the more “modern” bathrooms. If the faucet knobs don’t upend all your expectations by turning in instead of out, I don’t want it. If there’s more than one or two stalls, I don’t want it (first floor BC, you can stay, but you’re on thin ice). If you aren’t bombarded by bizarre, bright, an out-of-place colors, I don’t want it.

We’re talking that tiny bathroom in Convocation Hall, tucked away like a secret meeting place, where you have to duck to get in, and there’s room for about half a person in the stall. We’re talking pub-floor bathroom in the BC, with its soft blue tones and questionable graffiti that boldly claims that John McCardell is Darth Vader.

We’re talking the mysterious white and angelic bathroom that I visited on my overnight that I’ve never been able to locate since. We’re talking second floor of Guerry, where an homage to Duchamp’s famed urinal resides. We’re talking about every bathroom with a introductory room, reminiscent of a time passed, featuring a weirdly long yet lowly placed mirror and a velvet plush chair, seat, or couch.

If you want history, various Sewanee visitors and tour-ees, please, take a seat on our porcelain thrones and soak in the weird and the old that’s impossible to ignore in the bright yellow countertops, or in the baby blue tiles, the unmistakable sign of both the time and the culture that’s embedded on the Mountain to its very core.

And I’m not saying that the cavernous ceilings of duPont and the warm atmosphere of Stirlings’ are irrelevant to the culture here, because they’re not. I’m just saying that, if you want a test of true belonging, come, pee, wash your hands, take a mirror selfie, fix your makeup, and step back into time.