The bathrooms are fine. They have single-sex bathrooms everywhere so you're not forced to shower with guys at all and they have curtains. When I showered there was NO ONE in the room and this was at night and early in the morning. I only bumped into someone as I was coming out and she had a towel on. I wouldn't do co-ed bathrooms but the single-sex ones are fine
Burton was remodeled a couple summers ago, and I think Harkness may be the only building with group showers. That's an opt-in building, and there are systems in place to make sure every student is comfortable. It's something prospective students talk about, but I honestly haven't thought about it in the two years I've been at Oberlin.
I think Fairkid is the only other building with group showers still... but like Harkness they have the E, but I think they also tend to vote most of their bathrooms into single-gendered ones, but you will still have the opportunity to indicate that you won't want anyone else coming in.
note: I live in Harkness this year and have always taken showers alone and haven't had any problems with the E.
i haven't been in a dorm with group showers, but as for gender neutral bathrooms, it really isn't a problem. as others have said, you vote anonymously at the beginning of the year. i was truthfully pretty worried at first, but everyone is mature and it's not an issue. you see the same people everywhere else in your hallway and talk to them, so it's not odd to find people of the opposite gender in your bathroom too.
also someone asked about co-ops. there are a few different types at oberlin. some of them are dorms where students do all the cooking and cleaning. others just have cooking, and some are students who live in other dorms but come to that co-op dorm to eat. there is a main chef, and students have shifts each week to help prepare, clean, etc. it saves you a bunch of money to eat in one and it's probably healthier. some just have vegan or vegetarian food. i am not in one but i've i've tried food from a few and it's been good from my experience. different co-ops have different personalities and menus, so look into them more indepth if you want to live or eat in one.
There's nothing odd about a co-ed bathroom with co-ed showers. One of the dorms on campus here at Lawrence used for summer housing has a couple of co-ed floors where men and women share the bathroom and can be roomates if they want. I'm on one of those floors rooming with my girlfriend.
The very first day seeing women in the bathroom and walking in and out of the showers was kind of weird, but after 3 weeks it is completely normal to me.
The only reason people get "shocked" at co-ed shower rooms is because they are not used to it. Plain and simple.
This is the first year that co-ed showers were used at my college. Because of an unexpected shortage of housing, a men's dorm had to quickly be converted to a co-ed dorm. There is only one communal bathroom on each floor except for the second floor where there are two bathrooms, so the second floor bathrooms were kept as same-sex and the other bathrooms became co-ed. (Students who did not want to be in the co-ed dorm were allowed to move or they could use the second floor bathroom, which was not exactly convenient if you live on another floor.) The showers are totally communal and there is no privacy in the showers. Rules were posted and it was made very clear that there was to be nothing "intentionally sexual" in the bathrooms. However, it was also made clear that erections were not something that guys could totally control.
The first couple of weeks, the showers were full of guys with erections (whenever there were girls there), but I never heard of any problems and I never heard of even a single complaint. Most of the guys tried to minimize their visibility when they were erect. By the end of the month, it was obvious that most of the guys had gotten over the co-ed shower thing and it was no big deal.
The OP said: "This whole thing shocks me. For the amount of money the school charges, they can't convert these shower "rooms" into individual stalls?? I'm really not a prude, honestly....BUT, I have never heard of this in ANY other college; and, I'm not happy about it."
OP: any additional questions?
Most showers at Oberlin are the traditional ones that you would like; there are a few that have curtains separating them instead of stalls; each dorm has the kind of shower facilities you like; and no one is required to take group showers :-)
Your child will be safe at Oberlin.
P.S. It was amusing that you thought it was a budget issue :-)
Not to mention that in the last five years, the college has installed shower dividers in Burton and Fairchild. The only living space that still has group showers is Harkness, which
a) is a co-op, so no one ends up living there unless they've specifically requested it; and
b) would probably stage a protest if anyone tried to get rid of the group showers.
What school was this? That is pretty amazing. I remember how shy I was at 18 or 19 and can imagine it would have been weird to shower nude in front of schoolmates of the opposite sex. Did most people just go along with it and just suck it up and shower naked in front of the opposite sex or did many people use the 2nd floor shower to avoid having to shower in front of someone of other sex? Were there any rules that girls could have privacy if they wanted or could anyone just walk in and join them in the shower without asking? I wonder if this will be a future trend, who knows.