In a recent move to increase the cleanliness of Samo restrooms, the Associated Student Body (ASB) has began to put up signs to encourage students to be more respectful of the facilities they are given.
According to senior ASB vice president Rebecca Sherouse, the signs were a cost-free way for ASB to help increase restroom cleanliness.
“It stemmed from the fact that there’s no funding to repair the bathrooms and the bathroom cleanliness is a main concern from students as well as ASB,” Sherouse said. “We were trying to find a way to get students to keep bathrooms clean, and we figured we would hang up signs to make students more accountable.”
According to Sherouse although posting signs will not solve the problem, it has brought attention to the issue.
“I think it’s started the conversation within students as to how to keep the bathrooms clean, which is a step in the right direction,” Sherouse said. “Posting up signs raises awareness of the problem and raises the expectation of how students treat the campus, and if enough students care about the issue, then the administration will listen.”
In addition to ASB’s efforts to increase the restroom cleanliness, some teachers are taking a stand on the issue. Samo Chemistry teacher Martha Chacon sent pictures of the school restrooms to I-House Principal Renée Semik, including photos of feces and urine found on the floor, in an attempt to bring attention to their unsanitary condition. Chacon said she took action after custodian Felipe Cueva complained to her about the condition of the restrooms.
“[Cueva] was fed up and frustrated with the state of the bathrooms, so he came to me to let the faculty know what was going on,” Chacon said. “This is not a new problem, but it shows such a total lack of care and respect for the people who go to this school because it makes it so that students who don’t cause any damage to the bathrooms can’t use them.”
According to Semik, shortly after she received the pictures of the restrooms along with the email explaining the need for change, she brought the problem to the attention of Principal Laurel Fretz and Plant Manager Jeff Frazier. According to Semik, the administration is doing all it can to solve this problem.
“The conditions of the bathrooms have been a concern of the plant manager and administration for quite some time,” Semik said. “Mr. Frazier and his team have made a concerted effort to ensure that all the bathrooms are scrubbed thoroughly at the end of every day and are stocked throughout the day with toilet paper, yet the students need to take responsibility for the cleanliness of school facilities.”
According to Cueva, the problem has gotten worse despite the recent efforts by ASB to increase the cleanliness of restrooms.
“If anything, the bathrooms have gotten harder to clean in recent years,” Cueva said. “Students have no respect and don’t seem to realize that I’m not cleaning for myself–I’m cleaning for them. Whatever damage they cause is making life worse for them and other students.”
According to Cueva, the school has started locking the restrooms directly after school in an attempt to stop the destruction of the facilities, but because most of the soiling of the restrooms occurs during the school day, little difference has been seen.
“Kids complain about how the bathrooms are locked early, but there is a reason,” Cueva said. “Kids will do things like clog the toilets so that they flood, which makes it impossible for other students to use them. I think there’s something wrong with the people who do things like that because they don’t care that they’re hurting those around them.”
However, according to Sherouse, locking restrooms before school ends presents problems for the students not vandalizing them.
“I’ve tried to use the bathrooms right after school and they’ve been locked, which is very frustrating,” Sherouse said. “Hopefully, if enough kids care about this issue, we can speak to the administration about keeping them open longer, but it’s a tough decision because they lock them early to prevent students from destroying them like they do during the day.”
According to sophomore David Shi, the problem has gotten to the point where the restrooms are unusable.
“In the boy’s locker room, there was some poop tracked out of the bathroom and all the way down the hallway on Monday, leaving a disgusting brown trail that was only cleaned up on Wednesday,” Shi said. “Besides that, most of the floors are drenched with urine and most sinks don’t work or don’t have soap.”
Shi said that the he does not blame the problem on the school or the custodians, but said some action needs to be taken.
“I understand that the custodians can’t get everything perfectly clean, especially if it’s going to get messed up every day,” Shi said.
“However, I think that the school needs to try to make some new policy that makes it harder for students to destroy the restrooms like they do.”
According to Chacon, the school is considering different solutions to the problem.
“Some things that I’ve suggested are trying to humanize the whole thing by showing students how hard janitors work and just bringing the issue to students’ attention,” Chacon said. “There are other solutions–for instance, we could hire bathroom monitors who take shifts watching the bathrooms or have a system where students are more likely to speak up about who is doing the damage.”
According to custodian Debrah McNeely, having a system of monitoring the way students treat the restrooms would make them much cleaner.
“Having monitors in the restrooms would not only help to keep them clean but would also help prevent graffiti and students doing things like destroying the soap dispensers,” McNeely said. “I think that students would take better care of the restrooms if they were cleaner, because they’re less likely to have any respect for their fellow students if they are already in poor condition.”
According to Semik, any sort of change like this needs to come from students gaining more respect for the facilities they are given.
“The conditions that students leave the bathrooms are appalling, and while it easy to ask the question about what admin and the custodial staff is doing to maintain the bathrooms, I would hope the question about responsibility of the students that are doing this is more the focus,” Semik said. “There would be no need for pictures like the ones Mrs. Chacon took, if students were not defecating on the floor.”