Posted on December 28, 2004

Much Ado Over Those Squat Loos

Kerre Woodham, New Zealand Herald, Dec. 26

I had managed to avoid squat toilets until my trip to Cambodia.

There I encountered my first squat, and a most unpleasant experience it was. I wasn’t sure which way to face, where to go or what to do.

Things are reduced to their most elemental when you’re travelling in the Third World. A good day is a day when your digs have a flush dunny. A bad day is when your wallet falls in the squat, as happened to one poor man. Still, you adapt, don’t you, when you travel. You make do. When in Rome and all that.

So it stuns me to hear Auckland University is considering installing squat toilets to cater for its international students. The university claims it’s being sensitive to the needs of a diverse student population. Others believe it’s a contorted piece of political correctness. Even the International Students liaison officer believes it’s unnecessary to put in the squats.

Most of the students would know what to do, she says. And given the amount it costs to study abroad, I would be very surprised if the first experience of a flush loo for these pampered darlings was at Auckland Uni’s campus.

No, if they want to make these little princes and princesses feel at home, university advisers should introduce heated toilet seats, loos that tinkle classical music after you flush and gold dolphin taps.

Given the parlous state of the university’s coffers, I would have thought there were better things to spend money on than alternative, culturally-sensitive crappers.

Talk about flushing Government grants down the toilet. Besides if these kids are so damn clever they’re studying at a tertiary institution abroad, surely they can get the hang of a straddle rather than a squat. And if we can adapt when we go overseas, then it’s not asking too much of our guests that they do the same.