Bettering our Bathrooms
March 10, 2022
So what’s the solution? According to Mr. Barela, it is “more supervision. I hate saying supervision in bathrooms because there’s a fine line of weirdness, but at the same time, if no one is actually in there, you know, checking constantly, it just takes five minutes for the kids to go in there and wreck it. I hate having to lock bathrooms because it’s an inconvenience to the kids that are fantastic and use the bathroom properly just because a few kids decide to vandalize and make a mess in there.”
The question is who exactly would supervise the bathrooms. For good reason, it shouldn’t be adults. However, some students and teachers think the answer is to bring back what was once a staple of schools: the hall monitor.
A hall monitor is, essentially, a student who gets a class credit in leadership for patrolling the halls and the bathrooms to make sure that students are following the rules. They check passes for students out of class, escort students around that cannot be trusted to walk the halls on their own, alert custodians if there’s a mess that needs to be taken care of, and alert admin if a student is breaking the rules.
“We’ve talked about this in union meetings,” Journalism adviser Brandon Coon told us. “Students are saying that this situation is unfair, teachers are saying that they shouldn’t be responsible for what happens in the bathrooms, and administrators are saying that they cannot hire more campus supervisors. But hall monitors solve this: if students want a fair bathroom policy, they can step into that role and monitor others. This takes a burden off teachers and allows a better school environment without taking money from teaching.”
Even this isn’t a perfect solution. After all, hall monitors are peers, not adult authorities. Hall monitors could easily be ignored, bullied into not reporting a student, or even complicit in what’s happening by looking the other way when their friends break the rules. Hall monitors could also potentially become bullies to students if they enjoy their power to tell other students what to do a little too much. There’s also the problem of getting students to volunteer to be a hall monitor: while some students would jump at the chance, most students wouldn’t want the responsibility or the hit to their reputation for being a “narc.”
Ultimately, there is one perfect solution: we all need to stop abusing our bathrooms. It’s pretty easy to do:
- Potty training rules: hit the bowl, wipe, and flush
- Don’t write or carve things in the bathroom–no one cares what you have to say
- Don’t leave trash in the bathroom
- Don’t break things in the bathroom
- If something in the bathroom is broken, let an adult know
- If a sink or toilet is clogged, don’t use it and let an adult know so it can get fixed.
- Don’t hang out in the bathroom-go in, do what you need to do, wash up, and leave
- Don’t vape or do drugs in general, but also keep that stuff out of our bathrooms
- If you see a bunch of people hanging out in the bathroom or breaking the rules by vaping or tagging, tell an adult
Most of us do most of these things, but if all of us do them and start reporting the few of us who are making bad decisions, our bathroom problem would be solved. We know it works: this is literally how every other school functions. We also all need to do these things because locked bathrooms affect all of us.
Our bathrooms of course have room for improvement. Students we talked to would like changes that some schools have already put into place: paper seat covers for the toilets, nicer toilet paper, better room deodorant to kill smells, and access to free pads and tampons in the girls’ bathrooms. “I think it is just out of hand that some kids think it’s okay to ruin the bathroom,” said sophomore Karina Garcia. “It’d be great to have pads and tampons in the bathrooms, but we already aren’t sanitary [with] the feminine products and how we dispose of them now, so why would they give us more supplies?”
“I know these kids know how to use a bathroom,” Mr. Barela said. “I bet you their bathrooms at home don’t look like ours. If they do this type of stuff at home their parents wouldn’t appreciate that. So why come to school and do the same thing here?”
He’s right–this all comes down to personal responsibility. There are some people in the school who think that bathroom abuse is okay and we’re all suffering. If we want a change, we need to make sure we are treating the school bathroom like our home bathroom and pressuring our friends to do the same. If we see bathroom abuse, we need to report it and, on their end, admin needs to make sure that there are consequences for these bathroom bandits that will ensure they won’t mess up the bathrooms again.
As far as punishment, Mr. Barela has an idea. “I believe they need to help us clean. You made a mess, now let’s clean it up. You break a sink, you get to help me install the new one. Let them understand what it’s like to do my job for a little bit.”