By Keith Dinh, Deandra Han, Khanh Nguyen, Jennifer Rico, Charlie Stattion and Jasmine Villegas
Summit Public School: Rainier has implemented a new restroom policy in which students receive green passes per semester that allow them to use the restroom a set amount of times per class. After these passes run out, students are no longer able to use the restrooms during class time unless it is an extreme emergency. In extreme emergency situations, teachers are to notify other teachers and staff that the student is allowed to leave; the student must also speak to multiple adults in order to get access to the restroom. When students want to go to the restroom, they must: have a pass signed by their teacher; get the restroom key– which is attached to a five gallon water jug– from the office if a teacher is not present in the quad to open the door; then use the restroom; return the key; then return to class.
In recent months, students who need to use the restrooms during classes have to follow the protocols implemented by the administration, as the doors are always locked unless a member of the faculty team is outside on patrol. However, the teachers who are on duty at the times before breaks and lunch times are not always on the scene, leaving the doors to be locked during breaks and a long line of students going out the doors onto the ramps in the seasonal rain and wind. As a result, many students have expressed negative feelings toward these policies.
In the past few months, Rainier has been dealing with vaping issues in the restrooms, and administrators have pursued a solution to these issues. Since many students have had access to nicotine products and other drugs, parents of students had begun expressing concerns as to how and why their children have access to them. As a solution, administrators have decided to implement a restroom policy to further prevent this drug use, and other damages in the restroom. However, many students have expressed negative feelings toward the policy, since in a way it violates a lot of students’ rights and privacy. Students agreed that they did not like the way administration had approached the issue.
Relating to this policy, the voices of Rainier’s community have changed from hushed whispers to more outspoken statements in regards to how campus administrators have been handling the situation. The voices heard are crying out to what is an injustice to the members of the community, and, from those cries, underlying complications of these policies have been exposed.
Some examples include administrators holding the door to the men’s restroom open, which made them feel like their privacy had been violated. Other issues include locking the door all day and into the breaks, which often leads there to be a long line outside the restrooms and students being forced to use the restrooms during class.
Stories have been told by faculty members about how the policies affect their students who have expressed their thoughts and troubles to them. They have spoken on behalf of a number of female students that when on their menstrual cycles are uncomfortable with telling their teachers that they must tend to their femininity. These students would rather sit in silence to bleed for sometimes hours at a time, in order to hide their troubles, instead of taking the necessary actions to protect themselves. These faculty members have expressed that their female students should never have to be ashamed of their femininity, and that it is an abusive policy that does more harm than good.
See below for a video with many perspectives on Rainier’s restroom policy:
The Rainier journalism team conducted a student survey to ask their opinions and feelings about the bathroom policy. Here is a selection of the 141 responses we received:
Audriey Alpuerto – 9th
I do not agree with the bathroom policy because it doesn’t make sense and is a large inconvenience. It’s a large inconvenience to people who really need to go to the bathroom who have to wait until it gets opened. And you also have to go all the way to the office to get keys and unlock the bathroom then lock it again. And only one person can be in the bathroom at a time even though there are multiple stalls. It makes lots of students feel like they are in elementary again because they need to are being so closely monitored.
Hailey Bui – 10th
For the people who are fine with abusing the bathroom rules, the new rules aren’t really doing much. Since I feel like I am bothering the teacher by simply asking them to go to the bathroom, making them sign a pass for me is enough to discourage me from going to the bathroom already. In addition to this, I have to go to the office to get a key, which involves human interaction, which I do not like. After I have to talk to someone in the office, I need to get a key that is attached to a WATER JUG to take it to the bathroom, which is ridiculous. If I really had to go use the restroom, I’d rather just hold it in for the rest of the day than abide by this ridiculous set of rules.
Angel Flores – 10th
I always have to go to the bathroom but I lose my passes so I sit there suffering waiting until we get new bathroom passes and then I lose them again. It causes me great mental damage because I cannot concentrate on the work that they have given us but I have to use the bathroom.
Isaiah Dollens – 11th
The whole bathroom policy is a complete joke and an insult to anyone who needs to use the facilities. Instead of punishing the people who actually make the poor choices, they force upon the rest of the community an oppressive system in order to obtain their “Restorative Justice.” I agree with giving kids a chance to reconcile and recognize their own faults, but at a certain point we actually have to take action on these students to show them that they can’t just walk all over the faculty and the community. I think that punishing the majority for the actions of the minority is an idiotic way to run a school.
Katherine Lim – 12th
This policy was already implemented as a way for the staff to manage students, but when in the bathroom, students should be able to manage THEMSELVES without any trouble and to understand that they are only destroying the facility that they, themselves, are and will be using. Students also need to hold each other accountable, speak up when they see something or do something about it/fix it. If adults feel like they have to manage students because they don’t know how to use the restroom and leave it as they left it, then us students are doing something wrong. Considering this is high school, the amount of responsibility students take is pathetic. (I know there are a selective few that do the most, but the rest of us are considered bystanders because we don’t do anything about it and faculty can’t single out the few and restrict them. Leave No Bulldog Behind and This is Our School) We need to give staff a reason to trust us and I understand why they don’t. I can list all the things I’ve seen wrong when walking into the restroom but that would take too long.
The Rainier journalism team has heard the complaints students have made and has scheduled a meeting with administrators to figure out an alternative approach to the restroom issues. From this meeting, we aim to clear up the frustration students have expressed and to hopefully compromise a solution. Some solutions could include adding a vape detector to the restrooms, returning to the bathroom passes as originally used, and checking up on students who are suspected of offenses.
Featured image (at the top of this post): On Feb. 27, female students were required to line up in the rain during brunch to wait for the restroom to be unlocked. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh