By San KoKo Htet
On February 27th, an e-mail was sent out from the school informing parents and students that “due to vandalism it is necessary to close the bathrooms on all floors for maintenance,” except for those on the first and seventh floors. It also said that the bathrooms would be “closed indefinitely.” With over five thousand students in the school, limited bathrooms caused crowds and delays for students.
Shutting the majority of the bathrooms was not a good idea – only a couple of bathrooms were vandalized. The initial response – a bathroom lockdown to stop vandalism – affected more innocent students and teachers in a negative fashion than it did the few perpetrators.
For those innocent students, such as Ilana Urman, class of 2015, they felt this restroom policy was not the greatest idea that the administration has thought of because it created a new obstacle in an already hectic school environment.
“This was incredibly inconvenient. If we have class in between we have to run upstairs or downstairs. Locking [the restrooms] was not the best idea,” said Urman. “This was not a justified action [by administration] because kids are just going to vandalize more bathrooms and there will be less functional bathrooms.”
Furthermore, other students, such as Adrian Pascual, class of 2013, felt outraged by this policy. “I think it’s a bunch of malarkey. These administrative zealots think they can push us around just because we’re high school students. They honestly want us to walk four flights of stairs (on top of the broken elevators) just so we can relieve ourselves in peace. What is this, a minimum security prison? Next thing you know we’ll be escorted by armed guards to mirthless stalls under camera surveillance,” Pascual elaborates.
He also agreed with Urman that this policy was an ineffective method of solving a minor inconvenience. “Students will inevitably lash out against the system if they continue to be oppressed by those with authority. I want to pee in peace,” says Pascual.
Moreover, students were not the only ones that felt this policy affected them negatively. Teachers, such as Timothy Ree, had opinions on this topic as well. “If it affects my students to the point where they are late to class or ask during class, it is an inconvenience to me. Punishing all for the sins of one is ineffective in my experience. Failing all for one student’s mistake does not work because the students will just turn on you and you become the dictator. I can understand if certain teachers have that policy though,” said Ree. “What else can you do? Kids have to use the bathroom. Kids miss a lot of information even in five to six minutes.”
Ree puts forth an interesting point. Students miss a lot of class time using the bathrooms even when they are open on every floor, but when the only bathrooms open are on the furthest reaches of the school, students will be out of the classroom longer and will miss even more material.
It is evident that the bathroom policy put in place created an obstacle. Students had to travel a few flights of stairs in this gargantuan school, only to wait in long lines to finally relieve themselves. This can be stressful especially if it is done multiple times during the day. A solution to this problem could have been to close the restrooms on alternating floors rather than closing the five in between the only two that were open. The closing of the bathrooms has been done in the past by the administration as a method for trying to have students behave properly and not vandalize school property. However, it just creates an inconvenience and does not affect the frequency of vandalism because it continues to happen every year.