Restroom conditions affecting students


The boys restroom up stairs green hall has a broken urinal making many students unable to use the restrooms due to the restroom vandalism. Photo by Samantha Limon

The condition of student restrooms has a reputation for not being the most pleasant places on campus.
Student restroom’s are notoriously difficult to police because of the need to provide privacy for students to take care of their personal needs. Last year, students took vandalizing to the extreme when students participated in the “Devious Lick” challenge which involved stealing and damaging items in bathrooms.

At the most basic level, school bathrooms serve to function as a place for students to take care of their personal needs and wash their hands for sanitation. However, the results of a recent online survey by The Eagle’s Eye showed that almost 94 percent of respondents believed that Akins bathrooms are in “terrible” or “bad” condition. The remaining six percent said they were in “acceptable” condition.

Assistant Principal Brad Lancaster said he regarded the bathroom conditions at Akins as “brutal” and was surprised there weren’t more students who agreed that the bathrooms were in terrible condition.
Several students commented that they were concerned about broken or missing stall doors.

“So many of them don’t even close correctly because they were put on wrong,” said an anonymous student on the survey.
Students also said they don’t believe the condition of the bathrooms is the fault of the campus custodians.

“It’s not the janitors’ fault, it’s more so the way the students treat the bathrooms,” junior Charlotte Henley said.
Sophomore McKenna Carpenter said the restrooms are often unwelcoming places for other reasons, as well.
“They smell like weed and they always have people in them that look angry,” Carpenter wrote in her survey response.

This is why 68% of students polled answered they avoid using the restrooms at school unless it’s an emergency and 20% of students answered they would not use the restrooms at all at school. Only 12 percent of students said they are unconcerned with the state of school bathrooms.
This also causes a problem for kids breathing and inhaling the smoke in school bathrooms.
“Girls do inappropriate things or smoke so I can’t breathe right,” junior Natalie Rodriguez said.

Survey respondents argued that they shouldn’t be exposed to secondhand smoke when they just need to take care of themselves and get back to class.
Even before the Devious Lick challenge left restrooms destroyed and missing soap dispensers and toilets clogged, they were already starting to show their age now that the school has been open for more than 22 years. Several restrooms had broken urinals, sinks and toilets even before the vandalism was at its worst.

Since Spring Break, students have noticed some small upgrades in the fixtures for the sinks, but more improvements are needed to restore them to what students would believe would be an acceptable standard for a public bathroom.
Some students believe that campus bathrooms are now a place of harassment and illegal behavior. Over half of the students surveyed, agreed they have witnessed illegal behaviors in the school restrooms. There have been other accounts of even damaged ceilings.
“Last year, the ceiling above one of the stalls had a hole where water would repeatedly leak out, which I think stayed that way for the rest of the year,” sophomore Katherine Hernandez Luna said. “This would get the floor slippery and it also fell on you while you were in the stall. I’m not sure about this year, but that hole might still be there.”

The bathrooms are supposed to allow you to have privacy while you go about doing your business, but students have used this privacy to smoke, fight or even do “intimate” things with one another, according to the survey results.
School administrators are aware of the problems, but do not have many ways to address the conditions without funding for a complete bathroom overhaul. Lancaster said students should report the issues and conditions that they are experiencing in the restrooms when they see problems.

“We can’t be in all the bathrooms at all times watching all students,” Lancaster said. “So we need the students’ help and to let administrators know when students are doing those things in the bathrooms.”
Privacy in the restrooms is also limited because of the broken stall doors. The negative effects and conditions are still present in restrooms, even after a year since the Tik Tok “Devious Lick Challenge.”
Lancaster said the campus and district maintenance staff are doing its best to take care of the graffiti that often cover the walls of the restrooms.

“We’ve painted them multiple times. We’re on a rotation with the district maintenance office to get them painted as frequently as we can,” he said. “But they have 120 campuses to serve so it doesn’t happen as quickly as we would like, unfortunately.”
Lately, we have been relying on the school to replenish bathroom supplies and repaint vandalism or at least fix the toilets and sinks so that they are operational. However, with the constant vandalism in the bathrooms, AISD hasn’t been able to properly maintain this level of cleanliness.
What’s to come in the future if our bathrooms continue to be trashed as students walk in and “half of the toilets are either really dirty or in an unusable condition” an anonymous senior wrote. Or when they see “I’m sorry to say this but I’ve seen it multiple times… they leave pee on the floor… WHO LEAVES PEE ON THE FLOOR,” wrote an anonymous freshman on the survey.

Lancaster said administrators are considering installing doors that can be locked for the entire restroom, if they need to shut them down because of continued abuse and vandalism.
“We’re looking at putting doors back on the restrooms, just so we have the ability to lock them,” Lancaster
said. “So in the future, if the restrooms you know, continue to be vandalized in any way, we’ll just start locking them up to where there are only a few restrooms open on the entire campus that way we can monitor them a little more closely.”
However this is to be expected as Lancaster says, “obviously there’s consequences for it”