Discipline policies cause hardship to the Rainier community
By Vu Nguyen, Karla Tran and Van Tran
At Rainier, male students have to walk across the school campus multiple times to be able to utilize the bathroom due to a discipline policy. Rainier senior Cristian Trujillo, who recently broke his leg, stated in a survey that he feels the bathroom policy is “dumb” and a waste of time and that student efforts should be spent in class. His reasoning: all of the male students had to face consequences for the vandalism a small group of students committed. Cristian Trujillo shared, “If anything, I’m wasting more time going to the bathroom now than I was before.”
At the beginning of this school year, the boys’ restroom was continuously vandalized with broken walls, sinks and ceilings. The bathroom policy was then adjusted and reintroduced to the male students as a result of all the damages. The policy does not require signed green passes like the previous year, but instead boys have to go to the office, wait in line, and obtain a key to go to the restroom one at a time.
This policy is time-consuming, which impacts the students’ work. Rainier junior Romuz Abdulhamidov stated in a survey, “It discourages the boys from using the restrooms, therefore putting them at risk for they have to hold their urine for an extended period of time.”
The current bathroom policy was implemented when administrators noticed vandalism and the smell of drug substances inside the boys restroom. That policy is one of several discipline policies Rainier has established to address behavior issues in terms of the misuse of school property. Rainier has created policies like the bathroom policy and the tardy policy to try to stop students from vandalizing the school’s property.
The previous bathroom policy was established in mid-October 2018 as the staff discovered the smell of drugs from the bathrooms. To create a safer environment, a limited amount of green passes were distributed to each student as a way to limit bathroom use at school. Students then had to ask the teacher to sign it. Many students at the time were upset by this new policy as it was a waste of paper and time.
As new policies emerged, the students and teachers at Rainier felt inconvenienced by the decisions the faculty and administration had agreed upon. Students feel that these discipline policies are a waste of time and resources, and that they are unfair to the whole community.
Rainier senior Toan Chau expressed that the bathroom policy was an “incredibly stupid” idea as the whole school was punished for some people’s misbehavior. Chau wrote in a survey, “It is consistently the same person doing the same things that end up ruining everyone else’s time.”
However, these discipline policies are continuing to be implemented by Rainier’s faculty and administrators said they have noticed positive changes in the actions students take. Administrators said they know that these policies are hard to transition into, but they have seen some improvement compared to before they decided to make each individual policy for the school.
Rainier administrators said they are aware of the discontentment the community has, but the policies will stay as they have been effective. Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo said she dislikes the bathroom policies; however, she shared, “I will say that since we’ve had this new bathroom policy, there has been no further destruction in the restroom. We have not smelt vape pens and weed in the restroom during this time.” She expressed that Rainier will continue the bathroom policies “unless something changes.”
Rainier English teacher Sunli Kim stated in a survey that, since this policy was implemented, the boys’ restroom usage has greatly decreased, but that the policy did nothing to prevent students taking an “exorbitant” amount of time using the restrooms. Ms. Kim dislikes having to take time out of her class to coordinate bathroom breaks for students; she stated the students “should be able to figure out your own bladder needs by now.”
The bathroom policy has generated a lot of frustration from students, but administrators said nothing much can be done at the moment because the policy has greatly reduced the vandalism in the bathroom. Ms. Trujillo shared that the vandalism greatly affected Rainier as they had to pay the repairs using “the budget Rainier does not have.”
Ms. Trujillo recalled, “There was once where I went through all of the paperwork and all of the budgetary restrictions that we had to kind of deal with, and I decided to just pay for a handyman out of my own pocket because that will made more sense to the school, and it was just a lot less paperwork that I had to do.”
Recently, a new tardy policy was introduced due to the faculty’s concerns that many students were running late to class constantly. Students who came late to class have to call their parents to inform them of their tardiness. Yet, some teachers believe that this policy is not very effective because students still come in late to class.
Rainier Spanish teacher Rebekah Green explained that the tardy policy is not that effective as there seems to be “no change in frequency of tardies”. Students have refused to send texts and even some parents have requested not to be texted. Ms. Green pointed out, “I think we should focus on understanding the causes of tardiness and helping parents get their kids to school and to class on time, rather than stopping at simply making parents aware that their students are tardy.”
Rainier Dean of Culture and Instruction David Tarula Chavez thinks that this policy gave students shocks at first and said, “I think it was very inconvenient for a lot of students, or at least from their mindset. It wasn’t convenient, but I think as time has gone on and it’s become more of a practice, it doesn’t seem as inconvenient or it’s just become ‘normal’.”
Mr. Tarula Chavez described, “I’m seeing fewer students be late, and it’s not that long of a time so I’m able to come back into the office, a minute or two after classes began, whereas before I would be out there [in the hallway] like seven minutes or whatever the time was to come back in.”
Discipline policies are important to highlight because everyone, including students, teachers, administrators, and parents, are being affected by all these policies. Ms. Trujillo said that there was a parent who transferred their child due to the bathroom issues. The child would avoid drinking water and using the restroom at all costs. Ms. Trujillo said, “I think of those students who are being affected that way. Even if it’s inconveniencing us … to ensure that kids are safe in that space, it’s worth the inconvenience.”
Some students have shared that they try to avoid using the restrooms during school because they are afraid that they will see other students vaping or doing something illegal in the restrooms. Rainier freshman Mia Delarosa stated in a survey, “I like the policy because I do not want drugs on campus cause it makes me feel unsafe and uncomfortable.”
Furthermore, Ms. Trujillo said she wishes that Rainier could become a true community where we all hold each other accountable and responsible. She hopes that students would call each other out as she believes that students would listen to their peers more than adults. She said it saddens her to see the whole student body being affected by a few students’ actions.
For now, the policies will continue at Rainier, as administrators have seen improvement in the quality of outcomes from these discipline policies. Rainier junior Tuong Nguyen stated in the survey, “It’s awkward and uncomfortable, but I also do understand the staff is trying their best to make the situation better.”
Featured image (at the top of the page): The Rainier community takes a break. PHOTO CREDIT: Vu Nguyen