Editorial: AHS Bathrooms Are a Disgrace

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Editorial: AHS Bathrooms Are a Disgrace

Credit to ImgFlip. Not a picture from AHS

Credit to ImgFlip. Not a picture from AHS

Credit to ImgFlip. Not a picture from AHS

Credit to ImgFlip. Not a picture from AHS

Adam Aleksic, Editor-in-Chief

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*The views and opinions expressed in the following piece are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Nest or Albany High School.*

Two years ago, I had to go to the bathroom after school during chess club, so I went down to the boy’s room and walked into a smoky scene where five or six individuals were breaking the law. Recently, I entered a bathroom during class hours that was not stocked with any paper towels, did not have functioning toilets, and was missing a soap dispenser.

Both of these incidents occurred in the first floor men’s room, which is perhaps the most egregious offender. Similar situations happen throughout the building. Obscene graffiti blankets the walls, you often have to wade through messes on the floor to awkwardly use the toilet, and there’s always something that’s missing, from a trash can to running water. The gender-neutral bathroom is infamous for being a hangout spot for truant students, and girls report that their restrooms aren’t so nifty either.

According to the EPA, “one of the most straightforward ways to create a healthy school environment is to improve everyday maintenance to keep school facilities clean and running smoothly and safely”. Albany High School has failed miserably at this. If we want to make our kids perform better, why not start with the building where they work forty hours a week? Forcing them to “hold it” all day, lest they battle their way through slime, smell, and sickening conditions, is not the way to ensure maximum success of our students.

It may even go beyond a moral need to a legal one: working sinks and flush toilets are required by New York State law, and the several instances where I’ve found myself without either have shown a criminal delinquency to properly maintain lavatories.

The main problem here, of course, is that we have a lot of dissatisfied kids that are actively destroying the bathrooms and making the situation worse for us. So what can we do to combat this? Albany High School’s approach seems to consist of locking bathroom doors.

This locked-doors method seems to be failing. Students still have to deal with a veritable quagmire whenever they want to relieve themselves, and the very action of going to the bathroom now means that we have to wait several minutes for a hall monitor to come by, putting us in uncomfortable positions and making us miss more class time. Students still can desecrate the restrooms after they get in, when they’re conveniently shielded from view, so the system is not particularly effective. It doesn’t just stop there. As a student, a locked door is a metaphor that something can’t be done, and the school is telling us that the way to deal with problems is to make everyone miserable and close avenues of opportunity.

What could work much better is the removal of exterior doors altogether. It’s not only legal, but it’s considered far more effective than locking the door. Hall monitors can detect any smoking or buffoonery, the insides of the bathrooms are still shielded from view, students could actually go when we need to and return to class on time, and students are reminded that they are close to authority. While it may sound outlandish, it’s been proven to work.

Another solution which we are not addressing is to have the bathrooms cleaned much more frequently. By investing more time, money, and work into these extremely important areas, better environments can be created for students to feel better suited to succeed.

We should tackle graffiti immediately, clean up spills as soon as they’re reported, and get broken valves fixed immediately to avoid week-long waits. Studies have shown that addressing vandalism right away is more likely to deter future instances, while letting it stay invites a lawless crowd to mark up our walls with vulgarities.

Finally, we could address students directly. Make announcements, hold assemblies, and put up signs that their actions affect the success of their peers and themselves. Anyone caught violating school property should not be let off leniently, for it’s that small minority that’s messing things up for everybody else.

Every day, we need to tiptoe over putrid sheets of pure slime instead of floors, wash up in rank troughs rather than sinks, and be treated like dogs who need their owners’ permissions to go about their business. Our restrooms are a disgrace to AHS, and something needs to be done!

*Stay tuned for a follow up story that will include interviews with building administrators and maintenance personnel.*

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