You call that a bathroom? Respect and maintenance may solve many bathroom dilemmas

By Emily Money

The restroom: We all go there on a daily basis, it’s unavoidable. In fact, did you realize that the average person goes to the bathroom six to ten times per day, for a total of two and a half years throughout a life? Understandably then, public bathrooms are always in terrible condition. Yet many of the peculiar sights and problems associated with bathrooms can be easily avoided, so why do they still exist?

Bathrooms at Central are particularly notorious for their sorry state. After-school vandalism has become such a problem that administration has had to start locking the restrooms after 2:30. Many of the problems with the bathrooms are merely behavioral issues, like graffiti, the inappropriate use of toilets, students avoiding class and hanging out, and even doing makeup. Although those using the restroom certainly contribute to their less than stellar condition, lapses in maintenance also add to the disarray. For example, stall doors are frequently ripped off the hinges and soap and paper towel are a rare sight. The terrible conditions of public bathrooms have many diverse causes.

Graffiti is a common problem, and it is one that I personally cannot understand. In the girls’ bathrooms, where I have firsthand knowledge, girls in particular feel the need to “mark their territory”, shall we say, by leaving little messages. Some carve their names into the walls or draw hearts around the name of a cute boy. Others try to brighten classmates’ days by leaving inspirational messages. And still others decide to be quite impolite, leaving hideous (and often untrue, I hope!) insults about the personal lives and/or appearance of others. The boys’ bathrooms are supposedly almost as bad (I have no personal knowledge of their interiors!), with creative pictures of appendages drawn on the walls, or boys demonstrating their colorful variety of swear words. How charming. Our custodians try to cover up or erase as many of the disgusting messages as they can, but they can only do so much. A clean bathroom door is a rare sight around Central.

While we are on the subject of boys’ bathrooms, another common behavioral problem is the inappropriate use of toilets. Toilets are for relieving oneself. That is all. It may be hard to believe, but some of our classmates seem to take pleasure in clogging the toilets with random objects. No, they are not for flushing paper towel rolls, snacks, or clothes. Shocking, right? And if you have to defecate, please go in a toilet, not in any other location. No one wants to clean up after you. Oh, and remember to flush.

Back to the girls’ restrooms… very commonly seen are girls hanging out in the bathroom. Perhaps this peculiar habit is something boys engage in as well. This is yet another thing that I simply can’t comprehend.  Of all the places to hang out, why do they choose the bathroom? Do they enjoy the awful smell and the sound of others relieving themselves? I often see girls hiding out there, maybe avoiding class, which is somewhat understandable. But besides that, girls often meet up with friends and just sit around talking for a while. Similarly, some girls have entire conversations on the phone in the restroom. Why? I can’t imagine that the person you are calling enjoys the sound of urination in the background.

Also frequently seen in the girls’ bathrooms: Girls doing their makeup before school, sometimes even straightening their hair. Why do you choose the school bathrooms to adjust your appearance? Perhaps a lack of time is the cause. However, if you have time to pack your makeup bag and straightener and still get to school early enough to do your morning routine, then you have time to just do it at home.

Of course, both boys and girls contribute their share of wear and tear and odd behavior to the bathrooms, but there are issues of general maintenance as well.  Stall doors have proven to be particularly problematic. Something seen in the restrooms of both genders are doors that have completely taken off or doors that don’t lock. How does one manage to remove a bathroom door? They don’t just fall off. That means that people deliberately break the doors, to the detriment of all of their classmates. Stall doors can be left broken for months. Many doors also don’t lock properly. This is a problem that is never fixed. Many students are consequently left waiting in line for a working stall or testing their luck that the door won’t open mid-pee. Many students have noticed this maintenance dilemma.

In addition, the school bathrooms seem to be missing paper towel and soap at least 40% of the time. Paper towel is often not replenished because of the aforementioned students clogging the toilets with it, but these supplies are needed if students are expected to wash their hands. According to the CDC, if people don’t wash their hands frequently (especially when sick), they can spread germs directly to other people or onto surfaces that others touch. Therefore, students need to be provided with access to paper towel and soap, or else they continue to spread their germs to others.

Clearly, there are many problems with school bathrooms, and although they can’t be solved completely, general respect for others and some extra maintenance would help quite a lot. Given that the Walled Lake School District spends an astronomical amount of money and effort on maintenance, why do we have some of these dilemmas so frequently? And to my fellow students: please, please, please start using bathrooms for what they were designed for.

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