September 2nd, 2022
The bathroom situation for SCHS students is getting out of control.
Since SCHS “repurposed” its P-Quad bathroom as a staff-only accommodation in the spring semester of the 2021-22 school year, student bathroom lines and woes have piled up. With restroom queues already elongated, SCHS administration further exacerbated the problem this year by locking the K-building’s bathrooms during lunch hours. They made these decisions due to instances of vandalism, loitering, and substance use in stalls. However, rather than relieving those issues, they created another, potentially illegal one, which punishes all students instead.
Currently, SCHS holds roughly 3,000 students and 150 staff members; a ratio of approximately 20 to 1. If there are 20 students for each staff member (including teachers, administrators, custodians, and supervisors), then why is the bathroom ratio nearly 1 to 1? Of course, student bathrooms provide more physical toilets than the staff restrooms, but even so, the ratio of bathrooms for students vs staff is absolutely out of proportion.
“Sometimes I worry I’ll get locked in the bathroom and have to wait for Ms. Shick to stroll by,” psych teacher Ms. Peter jested. “It is mostly male teachers in the P-quad, so we basically get the female staff bathroom all to ourselves.” While it is nice to hear that the female staff have their own bathroom, we politely ask the school if giving them an entire girls’ bathroom in the most popular part of campus was the most logical or moral choice. Closing this central bathroom off to the students has been the catalyst that sparked student outrage.
This bathroom situation has undoubtedly been hardest-hitting on the boys– who are allegedly the reason the bathrooms have been taken away. On an average day, boys can expect only two bathrooms to be open: one near the 500 building, and one occasionally all the way towards the S-buildings (both with supervisors standing guard like the restroom is Fort Knox).
This form of punishment is not only harsh but actually presents a legal challenge: the current California plumbing code for K-12 institutions requires a bare minimum of 1 accessible toilet for every 50 people attending the school. Some simple math, taking the approximately 1500 males at the school divided by 50 would mean that there legally must be at least 30 accessible, functioning, unlocked male toilets at the school– more than double the current 14 that are so “generously” supplied. The school has already taken measures to combat delinquency: adding a time limit to bathroom trips, forcing ID cards to be scanned before going to the restroom, and even assigning bouncers to the few open bathrooms. Why, then, are we still held to these punitive standards?
While girls do have more bathrooms accessible to them, typically they spend more time in the restroom, so lines have become exceedingly long. Consequently, female students spend the majority of (if not all) of their breaks in line for a stall, punished for crimes which they most likely did not commit. “I hate going to the bathroom during any passing periods or breaks because the lines are so long,” senior Kaitlyn Tuttle said. “If I actually want to go, I have to miss important time in class.”
It feels as though SCHS students’ wait time for the school bathroom is more extreme than the line for Space Mountain. Not only is it inconvenient, but the root cause may pose a possible health violation. Unlock the bathrooms and let the students on campus go about our days without worrying about access to one of our basic rights.