School restrooms are the newest scavenger hunt

The toilet, the loo, the great white throne: a space to execute the necessary process of excrement, the pinnacle of human vulnerability and primitivity. Theoretically, it would be a place clean and comfortable enough to do your business. However, our school’s bathrooms are just not that.

These fixtures have been neglected by the student body to the point of near disuse. When students defer from using one restroom, they find the next to be trashed or an unreasonable walk away.

Even pioneer psychologist Sigmund Freud during a trip to the U.S. in 1909 lamented over the lack of tolerable public restrooms.

“They escort you along miles of corridors and ultimately you are taken to the very basement where a marble palace awaits you, only just in time,” Freud said.

It appears as though the same problem persists over 100 years later — but here at RUHS.

For instance, I had to go to the bathroom during a class I had in the science building. Like I said, it happens. I first ventured to the bathroom on the upper floor of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) building, the 160s. However, the urinal was flooded to the brink with pee and candy wrappers and the stall was trashed with paper seat covers and toilet paper, feces not flushed away. I’m not going to use that.

Next, it was to the lower science building, where the bathroom was “closed due to misuse,” as the sign read.

Finally, I found a usable but foul smelling bathroom in the basement of the CTE. I spent about 10 minutes finding a place to go pee, something that should take two. And that’s 10 minutes taken away from class time.

Males don’t even feel the worst brunt of the lack of usable bathrooms. Every snack and lunch, there is a line filling out the door of the girl’s bathroom in the main hall. The three bathrooms in the science building are closed during breaks, leaving only five bathrooms for each gender to service all 3000 students. Many of those waiting in line don’t even get the chance to go during snack and are forced to “hold it” as teachers are typically reluctant to let students go to the bathroom after snack, assuming that students have the chance to go during breaks.

In addition to the shortage of bathrooms, many students avoid using certain fixtures due to their unsanitary conditions. According to the Opinion Research Cooperation, 62 percent of students defer from using a restroom due to foul odors, 30 percent for clogged toilets, and 23 percent for broken stall doors. Any student who has used a restroom on campus has seen at least one of these enticing features.

The bathroom’s state of disarray is in no way the fault of the custodial staff. Instead, the blame falls on the students. The bathrooms are vandalized daily by students. It is unreasonable to expect to the staff to pick up after student’s pathetic behavior day after day, especially when dealing with human feces.

In response to student misuse, administration decided to close the male bathroom in the science building. While the collective punishment can serve as a wake-up call to students, it only serves to exacerbate the shortage of bathrooms. Tiny, business card sized signs warning students about possible repercussions for misuse also been posted on the doors of each bathroom but no one is going to see them nor care.

The California Plumbing Code requires that there be some form of supervision outside each restroom. If the school actually adhered to these policies, there would be surveillance, a camera or something of the sort, outside the bathrooms to catch whoever trashed the restrooms. Then, administration could go about punishing the culprit rather than the entire student body.

However, the lack of available restrooms is a problem that must be addressed by the administration and district. As the student population rises steadily each year, there are no plans to add additional bathrooms, even with the ongoing construction. If the problem remains unaddressed, there’s going to be a lot of clogged toilets on campus.