Pillbox

Women find support, give advice in bathroom stalls

Notecards with questions and responses are taped to the back of bathroom stall doors around campus. (credit: Nicole Hamilton/Comics Editor) Notecards with questions and responses are taped to the back of bathroom stall doors around campus. (credit: Nicole Hamilton/Comics Editor)

Everyone finds inspiration at different times in different places, but inside a bathroom stall may not be the first place most would expect. Many Carnegie Mellon women may have noticed “Share and Support” walls in women’s bathrooms in Hunt Library, Margaret Morrison, Baker Hall, Porter Hall, or even off campus at Kiva Han. These walls were created anonymously as a project to observe how women interact and how they support each other.

The temporary walls are made up of small folded cards or slips of paper that say “Problem:” on the front, and “Solution:” on the inside. There were also little boxes on the bottom of some of the cards where women could place an ‘X’ if they found the solutions helpful.

The project has its own Tumblr page, shareandsupportwall.tumblr.com, where photos of all the cards with the problems and solutions have been posted by date and location. The website also has a graph representing the problems and solutions that were obtained; it showed that most of the problems posted had to do with stress or love, and most of the responses either gave encouragement or suggested a course of action.

There are mixed feelings among women at Carnegie Mellon about the walls. Jessika Louissaint, a junior double majoring in biology and policy and management, said, “The content was very interesting in that people get a chance to talk about their feelings but with some privacy. However, I feel that people may not take it seriously, or may judge people.”

Junior policy and management major Jenn Brown said, “I think it’s a cute idea. I feel like some people are rude in the responses, which is kind of disappointing. If I were to write a question, I would want a real response.” Both said they hadn’t written a problem, but Brown said she has written at least one response. She even crossed off some of the negative comments that she saw.

Other women agreed that the wall was a good idea, but that there were some responses that were not very edifying. Ruthie Neely, an employee at Kiva Han, said, “The idea was cool, but I don’t know why it was only for women. I didn’t understand why it was a gendered idea.”

All of the problems appeared to be genuine, and most have received multiple suggested solutions. A few responses were either negative or disconcerting, but most were encouraging and sympathetic.