Sometime in the past two weeks new signage has been installed in all the cubicles of the women's toilets at the University of Waikato library (and possibly the men's toilets and other buildings but I didn't check them).
The sign, on the inside of each door says: Please use the toilet this way (with a silhouette of an androgynous person on a pedastal toilet with their feet on the floor, their bum on the seat, and their arms straight out in front of them as though trying to reach for the distant roll of paper on the door); NOT this way! (with a silhouette of a person squatting precariously with their feet on the pedastal toilet.)
This brought to my mind a number of interesting thoughts as I encountered these signs every break I took during a full day of research last week (and in the interests of research I made a point of investigating different facilities in the library to assess how widespread the signs are).
It's not hard to imagine that many among the diverse student body come from cultures where squatting is the usual practice for relieving oneself. It's also not hard to imagine that the bizarrely high pedastal seats in the library are an exceptionally risky place to squat. It is hard to imagine the University Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Hazard Management Strategy anticipating the dangers prior to a tragic incident caused by inappropriate toilet squatting. I wonder if there was more than one incident (broken bones? concussion? death?) and if so, how many would it take before OSH decided that such signs were needed. I wonder if there are plans to supplement the signage with educational street theatre in the university quad where the drama club could act out correct toilet posture and the dreadful consequences of non-conformance.
But why discriminate against squatters. It is supposed to be better for our health to squat than sit. What about accomadating, or even encouraging squatting on campus. Make foot stools available for squatters (and short people like me). Or special squatting cubicles with holes in the floor- if disabled toilets can be provided for people who need them, why not squatting facilities?). Hell, why not lower all the toilets on campus to knee height?