Fact: 99% of undergrads have never seen the hallowed hallways of Gerberding, which houses the administrative offices of the University. This is the White House of all buildings on campus. It’s the Lamborghini in the E1 parking lot amidst the sea of Toyota Priuses and Nissan Leaf-type shit. Gerberding balls so hard that students and faculty are not allowed above the first floor, as the signs by the staircase (there are no elevators) will notify you that only employees are allowed to use them.
I’m assuming that if you’re the 1% of UW students that have ever had to do something in Gerberding, it’s because of one of these things: your dad is in some Illuminati/Free Mason/Skull and Bones secret society and you’re talking to the Board of Regents about embezzling public research funds for purchasing a private yacht or how the University is secretly funding the Taliban because the provost’s uncle runs a weapons distributing company, OR you got in a shitload of trouble, like breaking into the supply room and labs at Bio-E to synthesize PCP to sell to professors as compensation for you 4.0’ing all your classes or downloading child pornography on the school’s network. I now give you a third reason to hang out here that, thank God, is not for as drastic of reasons as the ones previously mentioned.
Finding the restroom on the first floor is a little confusing because the hallways keep turning these soft corners and you see corridors everywhere but there’s only one main hallway so follow your intuition and keep pressing onward. It’ll be on your left. The women’s entrance has an automatic door, which you might think is pretty luxurious but there are much more plebian buildings on campus that have this feature. There’s actually a little atrium sorta deal that you can hang out there and take pictures and socialize like you’re on the red carpet of the Grammys. I was almost certain there’d be a valet in a tuxedo that hands you paper towels to wipe your hands with, and I was bummed because I didn’t have any money for his tip. Isn’t it bogus that you have to tip those guys? I was beginning to feel severely under-dressed, like I was at a restaurant where they only serve you if you wear a dinner jacket but you show up with a basketball jersey and floral swim trunks. Just to be careful, wear some loafers or a button-down shirt when you decide to poop here. Don’t wear a snapback like I did or else you’ll get scowls from the admin staff.
The interior isn’t anything particularly special, but it feels that way because you’re in one of the most exclusive buildings on campus. It’s like if you found out that Steve Sarkisian bought all his athletic apparel from Wal-Mart. The bathroom itself is actually pretty small, but then again such a small proportion of people on campus have offices or use it that it makes sense. Just because it’s one of the oldest, most historical and sexiest buildings on campus, doesn’t necessarily mean you need a huge bathroom or statues of Greek mythological figures or other such extravagant things. People know Gerberding is legit because of its reputation, not because of the shit that’s inside it. The HUB has a bowling alley but people don’t make a big deal about it because it’s just the HUB, you know? Everyone knows it as that place you go to when you want to buy overpriced food. People respect precedence and history and tradition and shit like that.
Gerberding is first and foremost an ideal spot because of this private nature. It’s also aesthetically pleasing. It’s small and simply laid out so there’s a very straightforward and efficient walking path. It also has a really sound amount of stalls and urinals, to the point where the bathroom seems like it can accommodate a decent amount of people at once without having to wait in line without it feeling like it’s too crowded. These elements give a really relaxed atmosphere to the entire place, which is nicely juxtaposed to the aura of power and tradition that lingers about Gerberding, which comes on especially strong when you’re looking around at the millions of portraits of past administrative staff members.
You would think that in this building the custodial staff would step up their game and invest in the good toilet paper. I thought this as well and was excited to bless my bottom with some Charmin type TP, at the very least some Quilted Northern. But no, they go with the shit that’s so thin it’s translucent. It boggles my mind how paper so thin that it is a technological wonder can be so scratchy at the same time.
The mirror above the sinks gives a hint of opulence, as it is framed by some wood with some bas-relief stars in the top middle. As much as I wanted that wood to be some ornate mahogany or other rare hardwood, it was probably some stained maple. What a facade. It’s the thought that counts though. And when you’re thinking about where to poop after a mid-day study sesh at Suzzallo or a class near Red Square, hit up Gerberding, but only if you’re dressed for the occasion. This might be my new favorite spot on campus.