Northwestern University Buildings Showers

The showers at the Mudd Science and Engineering Library and other college buildings are often the butt of jokes on campus, but these showers can help faculty and the planet more than we realize. Or at the very least, the students enjoyed taking a bath.

[sound of water coming out of a shower head]

ANITA LI: It’s a sound few Northwestern students have heard before: water gushing out of Kresge Hall’s third-floor shower. That’s right. In fact, there are several showers in Kresge, on the first and third floors. Never heard of it? Well, some NU students don’t either.

LAUREN MALENFANT: I think I saw Mudd’s, but that’s it.

IAN PARK: Never heard of anyone actually using the showers, just thought it was a joke.

ANITA LI: And I don’t blame them. These showers are in buildings like Mudd (Science and Engineering Library), Kresge, Ford (Center) and Harris (Hall) – places where people may not need a shower. In fact, we know so little about them, I don’t even have an exhaustive list of where they all are.


ANITA LI: From the Daily Northwestern, I’m Anita Li. In this episode of NU Declassified, we’ll dive deep into these seemingly random downpours in Northwestern. First, a few students who had never used the showers before decided to give it a shot — let’s get wet.


ANITA LI: So Justin and I are currently on the third floor of Kresge, right next to the elevators because there are showers here. Justin, what are you going to do today?

JUSTIN DONG: I’m going to shower.

ANITA LI: This is Justin Dong, freshman at McCormick. Justin has a pretty good reason why he takes a shower in that humanities building.

JUSTIN DONG: You were desperate and no one else said yes. So I was like, “Okay, why not? You know, that could be fun. I can tell them that I have already taken a shower in one of these showers.

ANITA LI: Lizzie Wilkerson, a freshman at Weinberg, also felt charitable.

LIZZIE WILKERSON: The weather was so nice the day I ran into you in the dining room, and I was in the mood to “do good for others”. Everyone can live a little. If it means showering at Mudd, it means showering at Mudd. My mantra at Northwestern is “just try everything once”.


ANITA LI: On the third floor of Kresge, the shower cubicle is in the bathrooms and has a toilet on one side and the shower on the other. It’s big enough.



[sound of shower turning on]

JUSTIN DONG: It’s a shower!

JUSTIN DONG: It’s definitely a weird experience, but I don’t know, it feels good now. OK, I’m going to condition!

ANITA LI: After Justin finishes shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and plays with the shower handles —

JUSTIN DON: I think it changes the water pressure. Oh no, too bad, it just changes the way the water comes out.

ANITA LI: Justin said the experience exceeded his expectations.

JUSTIN DON: I felt like it was going to be a really bad shower, but that water pressure was good, the temperature was actually, like, decent water temperature. It was like trying a new roller coaster that you’re scared of, but eventually got up the courage to do, so I’d recommend it. But I wouldn’t do that on my own.

ANITA LI: Why not?

JUSTIN DON: Too embarrassing to come here to take a shower whenever I want. I’m never in Kresge.

ANITA LI: Lizzie thought the shower in the second-floor Mudd bathrooms was cleaner than the shower in her dorm, West Fairchild (International Studies Residential College).

[sound of water from Mudd shower]

LIZZIE WILKERSON: if I lived on North Campus, and if I wanted to do my full routine here, I would be comfortable doing my full routine here. I don’t understand why I would if I lived on campus, but if I was an upper class student living off campus and maybe I was going to North Beach for the day and wanted to rinse off before returning home, I would be comfortable doing it here. It’s nice – it’s an entirely separate room from the bathroom, so it feels very private.

ANITA LI: But Lizzie said she wished the showers had better water pressure and shelves for storage. Currently the showers only have a few hooks. Speaking of hooks, these two shower experiences had a sound in common.

[sound of hook falling]

ANITA LI: When Justin showered in the Kresge shower and when Lizzie showered in Mudd, they both had loose screws. No, not them, the hooks! They didn’t seem to be properly attached to the walls, so they fell on the floor.

But despite the fact that I get a bachelor of science, I am not an engineer. Back to what Justin and Lizzie have to say. They both felt like a lot of NU students were joking about showering at Mudd.

JUSTIN DON: Now I have all the bragging rights. People always joke about it, like, “I’m going to shower in the Mudd shower,” but they never really shower. I actually took a shower in there.

LIZZIE WILKERSON: I just think it’s silly because you think of a library as a space to study, and therefore take a shower, that’s interesting. A bookcase usually doesn’t require you to sweat a lot. I guess unless you’re in McCormick it might be more difficult.

ANITA LI: Although it is quite possible that many students, including myself, joked about using the showers at Mudd, never venturing under its misty spray, some students like McCormick junior Anchen Tong, dared to To do. He first discovered the shower in the men’s room in freshman year at Mudd, and this year he decided to give it a shot.

ANCHE TONGS: One day, I just brought a change of clothes with me and decided to go and use them. It was a really good shower, actually, which shouldn’t be surprising since Mudd is a relatively new building. The flow was good, the temperatures are good and all that. Also clean because probably because nobody uses it.

ANITA LI: But despite Anchen’s satisfaction, he no longer sees himself showering in Mudd.

ANCHE TONGS: It’s a useful resource to have, it’s just like, it’s a little complicated because you have to bring a change of clothes, you have to bring a towel to dry off. It’s really only fair if you think it’s worth the time and effort to get all your stuff there that you need.

ANITA LI: Anchen is right. For anyone living on or near campus, it might not make a lot of sense to bring all your stuff to another building. But that doesn’t mean these showers are useless. Julie Cahillane, associate director of sustainability at SustainNU, said that for those who cycle or jog to work, these showers are essential.

JULIE CAHILLANE: Showers in offices are quite common these days. They support sustainable transport options, such as cycling or walking, and offer individuals the opportunity to refresh themselves once there. Thus, it supports the health and well-being of occupants as well as sustainable transportation. I’m a cyclist and I often cycle to work, and in the summer it can be very hot. It offers the opportunity to refresh and be ready for your professional working day.

ANITA LI: She said she uses the showers at 2020 Ridge (Avenue, Facilities Management).

According to NU’s 2018 Transportation Survey, which is the most recent, about 50% of respondents said having more showers on campus would make them more likely to cycle. Of all those who cycled, professors were about four times more likely to want showers than off-campus students.

Julie said that for the past few years, NU has made a commitment that all new construction be LEED certified, which means they must be environmentally friendly according to a complex point system. And having showers in buildings promotes cycling, giving projects more LEED points and bringing them closer to certification. So, it looks like we might see more showers popping up on campus in the future as well.


ANITA LI: From the Daily Northwestern, I’m Anita Li. Thanks for listening to another episode of NU Declassified. This episode was reported and produced by me. The Daily Northwestern’s audio editor is Lucia Barnum, digital editors are Will Clark and Katrina Pham, and managing editor is Jacob Fulton. Be sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this. Good showers!

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @lifeisfab02


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