Due to a recent increase in graffiti and smoking in school bathrooms during class, the administration is cracking down on the current bathroom policy.
According to I House Principal, Renee Semik, under the current policy, students are not allowed out of their classrooms during the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes of class. At all other times, students must have a pass from the teacher to be out of class.
“Students are wandering around campus all the time,” I House Secretary Chanee Washington said. “They often just hang out in the bathroom and being in the I House Office, I hear them every day. They are going from bathroom to bathroom and vandalizing.”
While the appearance and functionality of bathrooms is a major reason for the heightened enforcement of the policy, Samo Athletic Director Daniel Escalera believes that the safety of the student body is an even larger issue addressed by these rules.
“I had a student a little while back whose father became gravely ill. I need to know where that student is at,” Escalera said. ”If they aren’t in the period that their schedule shows they should be in, then we have a definite problem. We are, by law responsible for students. The parents have entrusted us with the safety of their children and its our job to make sure that we know of their whereabouts at school.”
Teacher’s attitudes towards students leaving the classroom vary greatly. Some simply allow them to grab the pass without asking, while others write down the time the students leaves and the time they come back. Others don’t allow it at all or take off points if the student goes to the bathroom.
“As a teacher, I do not write down times or names. If I did though, I think I would start realizing that a student is going on a schedule,” Escalera said. “I could notice that I’m being taken advantage of. We want the students to be able to go to the bathroom but we don’t want people roaming the hallways or vandalizing bathrooms when they should be in class learning.”
Semik believes that the custodial staff, teachers, and administration have seen a definite increase in graffiti, vandalism, and other disruptions happening in and around the bathrooms in the last several months. According to Washington. these ‘disruptions’ even include students using illegal substances in bathroom stalls.
“This year there has been an increase in students smoking cigarettes or marijuana in the bathrooms during class,” said Washington. “In the past week there hasn’t been any instances but before that It is a regular occurrence. Two years ago, I encountered girls using cocaine in the Tech restroom. This year it has been isolated to cigarettes or marijuana.”
Many students are upset at the state of the bathrooms, as well as the new enforcement of the policy.
“Students should be able to use the bathrooms when they need to,” said sophomore Alexis Sanchez. “People that leave class to do other things are ruining it for the rest of us. The vandalism in the bathroom is really gross and makes me feel like I’m using a bathroom in jail not at a school.”
While faculty and security staff can enforce bathroom rules, Semik belives that it takes a community effort to make Samo a safe and clean environment.
“Most students would not dream of tagging up or breaking the sinks or clogging the toilets in their own homes, so why they feel that they can do it here is a big concern,” said Semik. “When students decide that this level of vandalism is unacceptable in their bathrooms and actively work toward stopping it instead of being apathetic or believe that it is inevitable, then I think that we will really see a change on the campus.