At some point, I feel like I should stop being surprised that when I come to work in the morning, there is a high probability that I will find myself typing something ridiculous. I’m not totally sure what that point is — but it is clearly not today, because “serial pooper strikes college dorm’s laundry room” is a thing that I just typed. Right now. A few seconds ago. And I am still having trouble believing that this is an actual thing that is happening.
The college dorm in question is Abbot Hall, which is one of the West Campus residences of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. According to the University Housing section of the SIUC website, Abbot hall is one of 11 three-story dorms in this area of campus; each has “suite-style rooms, lounges on each floor, and laundry on the lower levels.” However, as a recent report by Josie Arnett in SIUC’s student paper, the Daily Egyptian, details, using those laundry facilities is currently fraught with peril — because someone is repeatedly opening the washing machines and applying fecal matter to the interiors. WHILE THERE ARE CLOTHES INSIDE.
I believe the question on all of our minds is, who does that?!
To be fair, the “bowel movement bandit,” as Arnett described them (well done, you), doesn’t appear to be putting their poop directly on the clothes in the washers; each time, it’s been discovered in the rubber seals around the doors of the machines.However, given the poop’s proximity to the clothes, it has invariably gotten on them,as well; according to Arnett, sophomore Sami Pierce reported that she was “getting her laundry out of the washer when she noticed feces around where one of her socks was caught.” And, I mean, even for those lucky enough not to have the poop end up directly on their clothing, just knowing that it’s been that close to it would probably be enough for most folks to want to remove them from the soiled washer and run them again in a separate one.
(Or maybe that’s just me… but somehow, I doubt it. I mean, to be fair, pooping in and of itself probably shouldn't really be considered as taboo as it is — we all do it, after all — but purposefully pooping on or near other people's things with the goal being to cause annoyance or harm is... not great.)
Although it appears that only one incident has been officially reported, after which the university’s maintenance team cleaned out the washer in question, the Daily Egyptian reports that eight different “excrement encounters” have been confirmed in the Abbott laundry room — and perhaps even more astonishingly, it’s apparently been a multi-year issue: Two of the incidents apparently happened during the 2016-2017 academic year, rather than the current 2017-2018 academic year. (Both resident assistants and their supervisors “declined to comment on the dorm droppings,” reports the Daily Egyptian.)
This story brings to mind another recent, ongoing public defecation saga: That of the “Mad Pooper,” an unknown jogger who reportedly has been serially pooping on neighbor’s lawns in Colorado Springs. However, what separates SIUC’s serial pooper from that pooper is, I believe, intention. As weird as the Colorado Springs story sounds at first, there are a number of medical explanations for it — for example, as Alison Feller noted at Women’s Health when the story was going viral, the sudden need to defecate is a very real issue that people with bowel conditions often struggle with. Wrote Feller, “As a runner with Crohn’s disease — an inflammatory bowel disease that, among other things, makes me at times unable to control my own bowels — my first thought upon seeing this headline was, ‘Oh my god, being the subject of this story is my greatest fear.’”
The SIUC pooper, though? They’re actually taking the time to go to the laundry room, open the washers, and put poop on a very specific part of the machines’ interiors. That, to me, suggests premeditated poop-spreading.
A theory has been put forth that the pooper strikes when someone is too slow to remove their clothing from the washer after the cycle has finished — but given that some of the students interviewed in the Daily Egyptian’s piece stated that they believed the feces had actually gone through a cycle, it’s possible that the perpetrator could be doing their literally dirty deed at other times. Alas, though, the laundry doesn’t have any security cameras (which, honestly, seems like a bit of an oversight), so there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to discover the suspect. Sophomore Khiyah Ransom told the Daily Egyptian that one solution that’s been put forward is to keep the laundry room locked, with students only being allowed access by an RA; if it does come to that, though, it almost seems like it would just be easier to goto one of the other nearby dorms and do your laundry there.
In any event, let this story serve as a reminder to be thankful for the small things — because at least most of us don’t have someone stealth-pooping on our clothes when we’re not looking.