I can't be sure, but it might be

I am at my books; their pages reflecting fluorescent light upward to round ceilings filled with air. Students sleep on plastic couches, undergrads drool onto dusty cushions. Guards pace back and forth in front of the entrance, protecting us from the dangerous guy on the street looking to cop an illicit read at this time of morning.

I am crampy and tired.
I stretch and get up from my nest-paper, staples, gum, pencils.
I push open the door to the women's room, mouthing the words to the mantra posted on every woman's bathroom door in the entire university:

"In an emergency, please press the button for assistance."

I find a tidy stall and close the door. I sit squarely on the seat; I hear my boyrfriend's voice in my head: "Don't sit on the seat- this is New York, for Chrissake."

I turn my face toward the tile, there's the sign:

"In an emergency, please press the button for assistance."

There's the button, in all its redness. It sits mounted- proudly, actually- in the center of a dingy metal box, from which an abusive black wire protrudes. It is unexpectedly thick, and travels sloppily up the white tile, disappearing into a small hole where ceiling meets wall.
I stare.
I brush the button with my finger.
I put my head between my legs and close my eyes.
Had I pushed it, what would have happened?
Hidden bells and whistles sounding throughout the city?
A team of women in riot gear with dogs?
An old guard with a Kleenex?
How would the message travel?
Like lightening, like sound? Would it push its way by corroded, tangled, New York City wire, out of the library and through courtyards, dangling over fire escapes, in or out of open windows, lying in mud puddles?
Would it reach a university crisis center, where seminar-trained undergraduate women sit armed and waiting for the buzz?
Or is it a buzz?
In what way would "they" receive the information?
Would they know my name immediately, my pixilated student I.D. collecting on monitors all over the Village?

I am washing my hands now.
I think more about potential emergencies:

I cannot operate the tampon machine.
I have to throw up.
I am locked in the stall.
I have flushed my pen down.
The extra roll will not drop down into place.

What about the creep who walks in and corners me? Does he fear the button- for Godssake, does he know about the button? Surely he would think twice.

I think about the University meeting where the administration formed the policy.
A hot day, no windows. Mahogany table, ice trying to clink in water.
Suited, sweaty legs, shifting.

"Bob, I'm telling you, the women at this school need to feel safe. And I'm telling you, those buttons are here to do it, Bob, those buttons are here. No woman will ever have to walk into a university restroom feeling paranoid again. She'll see the button, Bob, she'll see the button."

Bob pauses. The room waits.

"Order the buttons for the women," says Bob.

I blow my hands dry; I pat my hair. I'm on my way home now, I will gather my documents and make my way through streets that barely breath at this time.
Me, however? I'm safe, perfectly safe.