Potty Problem: A punishment or a solution?

Brigitte Potter, Staff Writer

The new policy:

Our school has been continuously facing issues with bathroom use. From the gym area flooding after students flushed trash down the toilets to tampons hanging from the ceiling, Liberty has struggled with abuse of our bathrooms. 

As an attempt to deal with these issues, new policies were established when we came back from the December break. These changes included color coded bathroom passes, closing down the PAC bathroom, the 15 minute rule (students can’t leave to use the bathroom until 15 minutes of class have passed), and the constantly open bathroom doors.

This was an attempt at reducing issues such as vandalism, skipping class, and drug use. 

While many students believe that these are issues that need to be addressed and that the new changes came from a place of good intentions, other students don’t see it that way, and believe these policies should be reformed.

Staff Perspective:

The consensus for the Patriot Press staff was close to unanimous. The Patriot Press is not a fan of the new bathroom policies. 

The opened doors feel like an invasion of privacy, making many uncomfortable. While it isn’t the whole bathroom that is visible, part of it still is. One staff member even reported that when using a urinal, his friend was able to not just see but recognize him from the hallway, and shout hello.

Additionally, the period product boxes can be seen from the hallway. While periods are nothing to be ashamed of, it can still be uncomfortable for students who don’t want to broadcast their cycle.

Overall, the changes seem more negative than positive, and it feels like there has been no effect.

While the amount of vaping and students skipping class has been down in bathrooms, that doesn’t mean there are actually fewer students doing these things. Instead, they’re just going elsewhere. Streams of cars can be seen leaving the school before 7th period, and there is no way that many students have waiver 7th period. Trying to solve the problem without addressing the root issue will ultimately end in failure, and many feel that is what is being seen here.

Is this working:

A large emphasis was that with the 15 minute rule, skipping class would be greatly reduced. 

Those skipping class are often the same groups of people, and frustration has risen around why the administration is trying to correct a behavior done by a minority by punishing the majority.

As for the vandalism, one issue in the girls’ bathrooms doesn’t seem to be resolved. The tampons that are provided in these bathrooms have recently been serving a different purpose. Tampons can now be found stuck on the ceiling and some even made it to the outside halls. Having the door open hasn’t stopped this either. This continues to be an issue; one likely caused by a few select people. 

The open doors have made many uncomfortable for what feels like no reason since the issues that were meant to be countered by this new policy have yet to be resolved.

The flip side:

While the staff generally disagrees with the new policies, that doesn’t mean there aren’t positives.

“In the two weeks following the changes, vape hits have been down by 50% in bathrooms,” Principle Brownsen said.

Additionally, some students did feel unsafe beforehand in bathrooms, and the new changes have made the bathrooms feel like a safer place.

The aptly named “druggy bathroom” of the pac hosted the majority of the problems, and closing it down has resulted in less vandalism and violence.

These policies also have exceptions. For example, if a student gets their period in the first 15 minutes they would be allowed to leave and use the restroom. They aren’t so much rigid rules to restrict students as they are guiding principles to help foster a prosperous learning environment.

The Bigger Issue:

The problems that are meant to be addressed by these changes are serious issues, however, this is a surface level patch. Closing bathrooms doesn’t get rid of vaping, it just moves the people who vape elsewhere.

Many students are also frustrated as these changes impact the whole student body when it is a minority of students causing the issues.

One possible way to help find a middle ground is to focus more on the individual students than everyone.

Rather than applying a general patch and hoping for the best, the school should try to deal with those causing the issues head on, not just to make Liberty a more productive and safer place, but more importantly, to help the students.