Students ‘pee’ved over new bathroom security policy

Pony Express Staff

Marie LeCuyer, Marlee McGuire, and Issy Boegel

While walking the halls, keep an eye out for the locked bathroom doors with ‘See Something, Say Something’ QR codes taped up over them. Notice kids wearing yellow shirts, sweatshirts and pins. Watch for teachers and security guards who watch back as kids enter the bathroom. All are effects of new rules that began April 1.

In what students hope is an elaborate April Fools joke, administration has shared a new security policy with staff and parents.

“In an effort to address a recent rash of vandalism as well as the ongoing health epidemic of vaping, certain bathrooms at SAHS will be closed and locked during class time while the vast majority of students are in class,” Principal Rob Bach wrote in an email to parents.

Some students have decided to use the bathroom at home and ditch their water bottles. To kick off the month of April, all bathrooms except those near the Pony Centers and the individual gender neutral bathrooms are locked during class time. Bathrooms that remain unlocked are staffed to prevent petty vandalism and vaping by students. During the five minute passing time, four minutes on Wednesdays, all bathrooms are unlocked and monitored by staff members.

Teachers and staff are being asked to give up some of their prep time, one of their only breaks during their eight hour day, to enforce a security policy students have already guaranteed will not be effective. Many staff support the new policy, while still voicing their support for students participating in the #LetUsPee movement. Prior to going into effect, the Building Leadership Team discussed implementation of the new policy.

“Teachers have been willing participants. I think for the most part, they appreciate the security aspect of it,” Bach said.

Students have not been shy in voicing their opinions on the new policy; some speaking of walkouts, others joking of peeing on the floors and doors near the bathrooms. An instagram account, @letuspee, has garnered 2,000 followers and attention from 5 Eyewitness News and Kare 11. The account posts memes about the bathrooms being locked, started a petition and is arranging a potential walkout (or sit in).

“I would expect if that [walkout] is going to happen, that would come out through conversation with our student council. I would be optimistic that we can figure out some way of addressing concerns so it doesn’t come to that,” Bach said.

Students, however, are very adamant on creating as much noise as possible to regain their access to all bathrooms.

We knew we had to do something and didn’t have time to do a full scale federal investigation to figure out the best way to do this. We decided ‘Let’s just come up with a response that is workable.

— Rob Bach

As it is, lines already form outside of bathrooms during passing time and between lunches, and herding everyone to use the bathrooms at once, and limiting over 3,000 students to a handful of bathrooms will create chaos, not order. Some students have complained of security guards ushering them out of bathrooms after 45 seconds, but Bach said “that has never been a part of direction from [administration].”

Administration should focus on finding the root of the problem, instead of slapping on temporary bandaid after temporary bandaid. There is an obvious disconnect between those with mental illness and substance addiction and the therapists at the high school. Untreated mental illness can likely lead to the start of vaping, smoking or drug and alcohol abuse.

“We knew we had to do something and didn’t have time to do a full scale federal investigation to figure out the best way to do this. We decided ‘Let’s just come up with a response that is workable,'” Bach explained.

Instead of treating high schoolers like prisoners by taking away bathrooms and heightening bathroom security, administration should ask questions. What is causing students to feel strongly enough to destroy school property? Why are students vaping? What leads to students using substances? 

“We talked to students a little bit afterwards. I met with students through student council when it became apparent that students had a real vested interest in [bathroom closings],” Bach said.

Administration has to focus on the mental health problems behind the vandalism and vaping, and listen to students needs, ideas and solutions. High schoolers are smarter than they are given credit for, and they are the only ones who understands the graveness of the problem the high school is facing. Do not punish the entire student body for the actions of a few.