Mysteries of Higher Ed: #1 in a Series


Here’s the thing:  I can’t recall a single instance during my undergraduate career (1967-1971) of a student leaving class to go to the bathroom.  Not once.  The class could be 50 minutes, 90 minutes, or even 2 hours long.  We just stayed in our seats, occasionally squirmed, and then bolted for the door when the professor declared, “We’re done here.”  Today it’s a given that at least several students will depart during class to use the facilities, unless those students are wearing a stadium buddy. 

In the name of all that is urinary, what the hell is going on?  Why can’t students in 2019 hold it in?  Here are five hypotheses for your consideration:

Hypothesis 1 — The human bladder is shrinking due to ambient radiation generated by secret genetic experiments, conducted by the U.S. government, that aim to produce chickens with 8 wings for the all-powerful poultry industry.  The research has been taking place over the past 50 years in underground bunkers in the southwest. 

Supporting Evidence — This is something that our government would absolutely do.

Evidence Against —  Students at the University of New Mexico do not appear to be urinating with greater frequency than those at the University of Connecticut. 

Hypothesis 2 — Students are watching pornography on their laptops during class, and one of the side effects of sexual arousal is the urge to pee.

Supporting Evidence — Students who use laptops in class are more likely to abruptly run out of the room yelling “gotta go, gotta go, gotta go!”

Evidence Against — Given their age, most college students don’t need pornography in order to become throbbing paintballs of lust.  Nothing has changed on that score over the past five decades.

Hypothesis 3 — Students’ consumption of bottled water before and during class has increased their need to urinate. 

Supporting Evidence — Virtually no one hydrated in class in 1967.  Now students carry water bottles the size of Oktoberfest beer kegs with them to every destination, including bed.

Evidence Against — Even students who don’t bring bottled water to class are urinating more.

Hypothesis 4 — Classes are more boring than they used to be, making it easier to be distracted by the call of a full bladder.  (“Hey, I’m building up some pressure down here.  Let’s take a walk.”)

Supporting Evidence — Well, it’s true: most classes are boring.  People have died while watching PowerPoint presentations.  

Evidence Against — Classes were actually more boring 50 years ago. 

Hypothesis 5 — As our nation plunges ever deeper into a cultural abyss characterized by the disintegration of traditional social norms and an unrelenting focus on the immediate gratification of individual needs, students are more inclined to urinate whenever they damn well please.

Supporting Evidence — The next time you’re at the grocery store, try having an intelligent conversation about virtually any topic with the person standing next to you in the checkout line.  Pretty scary, isn’t it?

Evidence Against — Most people haven’t started relieving themselves in the street…….yet.

There’s a doctoral dissertation in all of this, waiting to be written.  If you’re a graduate student in sociology or anthropology, go talk to your advisor today…..and don’t forget your water bottle.