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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

Can you remember the building where you attended your first college class? What do you remember? Maybe it’s the winding vines across the building, the statue that stands in front of it, or the stale smell that inhibited the hallways. Maybe it’s the first exam you took in the vast auditorium or the friend you made on that first day. For me, it’s a bathroom stall.

Situated in the corner of the third-floor women’s bathroom in Mason Hall is a stall unlike any other. I stumbled upon it one day during my Calculus class across the hall. Upon entering the stall, I was wowed. My strong urge to pee temporarily dissipated as I read the words around me. The words surrounding were clearly not a project taken on by the school, but rather a plan for happiness initiated by some student whose name I will probably never know, but don’t need to. Seeing the impact that the first sentence written in the stall had on those following made it clear that the anonymous act of kindness acted as the start of an anonymous yet important community of encouragement. 

Image credit: Sara Deichman

The story of the stall resides on the center of the door. It reads, “I discovered this bathroom stall my freshman year here. Sophomore year, I had no classes in Mason & never came back. It is now my Junior year, & I came back in August & these walls were painted over. I had never added to the walls, but seeing them bare was sad. So, I wrote one message. I came back a week later, and there were even more. Now it’s November and these walls always have a new message. THANK YOU!”

The remarkable story of what was once solely an ordinary bathroom stall is bizarre. When I mentioned to my friend that I discovered the stall, he remarked, “Wow. That’s the opposite of what I’d expect to see in a bathroom.” 

Unfortunately, it’s true. Generally, bathrooms are home to a place for bullies to strike victims without witnesses. Whether it’s an act of physical violence in the space devoid of cameras or a nasty message written along the wall, media displays bathrooms as a center of fear and insecurity. That is why the messages, to me, are so inspiring.

Coming to college is a huge journey. You’re probably venturing off from home, and maybe also away from your home state, so finding a community is crucial. Coming from a small high-school where my friends were kids I knew since Kindergarten, I had no notion of who I would find and where I would find them. Did I even know how to make friends anymore? Further, I would not find instant friends in a sorority when rush is shifted to the Winter. How would I do it? But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. The overall culture of college life is one of understanding. Making friends proves easy when those around you are simply looking to meet people both different and alike to themselves in order to build friendships and a network of relatable, important people. 

In college, there are also genuine people whose goal is to uplift others. These are the people I discovered on the third-floor of Mason Hall. A Sharpie sits on the stall’s ledge, and hundreds pass by each day, but for the people who know what’s on the other side of the door, they know where to go in order to receive a daily dose of encouragement. They surmise that a community does not require tangibility. They know that it may even be anonymous, but carry the same gravity and opportunity for connection that other modern social media aim to provide. Ultimately, the bathroom stall made my day, a claim echoed notes across all of its walls. To everyone who writes notes on the walls or will soon begin to, thank you. I am so glad to find community in the most irregular spots.

Image credit: Sara Deichman

Hi! I'm a Sophomore at the University of Michigan studying Communications and Writing. I'm a South Florida native, so you can find me bundled up in the library studying when I'm not working out or reading books.
I'm Melanie Stamelman, a junior at the University of Michigan. I am the Campus Correspondent of UMich's chapter of Her Campus and am incredibly passionate about lifestyle journalism.  I follow the news and lifestyle trends, and am a self-proclaimed Whole Foods, spin obsessed wacko.  Thanks for reading xoxo.