Bathrooms Broken, Bladders Blocked
By: Emily Fleischmann and Kate Maglio
Across the Conard High School community, both students and staff alike have become increasingly aware that an alarming number of restrooms have become locked during the school day. This has inspired numerous questions in the minds of many: What is the reasoning behind employing this repercussion? How long will the bathrooms remain restricted? What can be done by the student body to aid in fixing issues occurring within our own school building? To smooth out the confusion in relation to the persisting number of bathrooms deemed off limits, Head Custodian Mr. Ferreira as well as Conard High School’s Principal Hines provided insight through their perspectives on the situation.
Bathrooms in general are a place people often find themselves feeling most vulnerable. With this prominent component of vandalism, damage, and danger, evident within Conard's bathrooms, many students find themselves avoiding going to the restroom. When many find themselves needing to use the bathroom, they often wonder: what concerning scene will I see today? For example, food can often be found laying around, whether it be on the floor or on top of toilet seats. Paper towels are frequently sprawled out on the floor, used feminine products stuck to the walls, and many more extreme displays of wreckage. However, destruction of school property is predominantly playing a role in the misuse of public restroom facilities.
With the student body beginning to catch wind of this issue, it became imperative to ask Head Custodian Mr. Ferreira his view on the matter, to which he provided thoughtful insight. We began by asking Mr. Ferriera: “What type of destruction is occurring in the bathrooms?”, to which he replied “...most of it is mainly graffiti… and like paper dispensers and soap dispensers being thrown off the walls and broken…before it was more like sinks being smashed on the floor, toilets being kicked, pipes being kicked...” A variety of methods are being used by students to destroy school property. This has caused the administration to enact procedures, with the goal of catching the culprits. Mr Ferriera describes that cameras are prohibited in the bathroom so, “…we pretty much see who comes in, who comes out, how habitual it is, what gatherings are occurring…” His analysis of these disturbances goes deeper, as he precisely encapsulates the glaringly obvious solution: “It’s really up to the individuals [to stop vandalizing].”
One student posted this hand-made sign to a bulletin board outside of Room 169
After conducting this initial interview, we determined there were more questions to ask in order to get to the bottom of this predicament. We turned to Conard High School’s Principal Heins to enlighten us as to why he believes the heavy stream of assembling in the bathrooms is evident. He explained: “We’ve had an issue with kids congregating in the bathroom, since the beginning of Covid. Kids are spread out, masked up all the time, the one place they felt like they could be normal was in the bathroom.” Kids turned to restroom facilities as a method to essentially escape from the separation brought by the pandemic, which has now become a pattern. In hand, unruly behavior has resulted with this habit.
Principal Hines also comments on his belief that the vandals may not understand the true extent of the results of their harmful actions. He puts forth a direct message for those committing acts of destruction: “I would love for the vandals to understand that their actions are negatively impacting people that they may not want to feel the sting of those behaviors.” He details that it is not too late to make a change, when requesting: “If they would just do the right thing, it would make this whole place better.”
Principal Hines demonstrates his compassion for this select group of students during this time of confusion and transition. He expresses that the value of these individuals is not determined by their history with mischief: “What I would also like to say is, to the vandals, they’re not criminals. They’re students, Conard students, and I value and care about them just like I care about everybody else. Hate the behavior, love the individual, respect the student.”
Mr. Hines leaves the student body with this final question to ask themselves about the decisions they make currently as well as in future years to come: “What is it that you are positively bringing to this school by the behaviors and actions that you display?”