To pee or not to pee: the dilemma of the bathrooms at Conant High School
It has often been contested whether the founding fathers enumerated specific rights in the constitution purposefully, or if they took for granted that certain rights would always be upheld for all American citizens.
There is no constitutional amendment that secures our right to use the bathroom. That being said, I doubt any lawmaker in the United States would contest the matter. It begs the question: why do Conant students often find their bathroom privileges held hostage?
Since the beginning of this school year, bathroom access has been incredibly tumultuous. Beginning with the ‘devious licks’ trend (the trend of stealing objects, especially from unlikely places) that led to half the bathrooms being closed across the school for weeks on end, to the recent plumbing and vaping issues that lead to sporadic availability of the bathrooms that handle the most traffic, Conant students often face a difficult decision: run halfway across the school to find the nearest usable restroom, or hold it. As second semester begins, Conant students should have better access to bathroom facilities, a burden that falls to both students in terms of behavior and administration in terms of logistics. ‘Holding it’ is not a feasible solution in the long term.
Impact Number One: the farther the bathroom, the more class time missed. I have personally found myself having to decide between going down a flight of stairs and two hallways or cutting across half the upper floor, trying to decide which option would be quicker. Much too often, either takes up to ten minutes. Ten minutes of class time in a fifty minute period, especially for fast-paced classes like physics or calculus, means missing the bulk of what you need to know. It affects our education, our ability to succeed on relevant outcome indicators, and forces us to try to weigh our health against our academics.
Impact Number Two: The fewer bathrooms available, the more crowded they are. Not only is there time wasted waiting for a stall to open up, it is an active health concern during COVID-19. Bathrooms are one of the the least-ventilated areas in our school, and putting people in close proximity in bathrooms is a serious health issue. Moreover, it leads to a larger maintenance issue seeing as the bathrooms that are open are often far less clean due to the number of people using them.
Moreover, we must acknowledge the direct health impacts of limited bathroom availability. Having to limit using the bathroom can lead to bacteria buildup, increased infection, discomfort and pain for students. There can be damage to the pelvic muscles as well as permanent damage to the tissue of the bladder. While none of these impacts result from short-term damage, they’re important to keep in mind when discussing bathroom availability, especially in a school of more than two thousand students. Fluctuations in bathroom availability force students to weigh their health against academic commitment, a decision we should not be forced to make for something as fundamental as using the bathroom.
Throughout first semester, bathrooms have reopened and are less stringently controlled. However, there remain fluctuations in availability that must be addressed as second semester starts.
The burden lies on both the administration and the students. The students arguably carry the greater responsibility: to conduct themselves appropriately in the bathroom and to hold others accountable. The main reason for bathroom closures lies in student misconduct, due to theft, flushing objects down the toilets, or vaping.
The short answer: don’t do that.
For administration, while we are aware that the easiest answer to most rowdy disputes is simply to revoke some privileges, please keep in mind the widespread frustration that long bathroom closures cause for the greater student population, most of whom simply want access to the bathroom to use the bathroom.