by Sasha Ryu
Throughout the year, incidents of bathroom vandalism at LGHS have escalated to new heights. According to the school’s maintenance department, the most extreme events seem to take place in the boys’ restrooms. Students have started throwing sodas, soup, and juice all over the walls, ceilings, and floors on a regular basis. One particular incident involved a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven, that was, apparently, flung onto the ceiling, reportedly “ruin[ing] the ceiling tiles.”
Peeing in sinks, onto the floor, and in corners has become another common occurrence. Others empty out toilet paper dispensers, leaving wasted paper piled up on the floor. Sometimes, students even use the paper to stuff toilets to the brim, until they’re severely clogged.
In addition to clogging toilets with paper, students in the boys’ bathrooms have also damaged the plumbing by flushing trash, food, and pencils.
Perhaps the most shocking pattern of behavior, though, is the use of human excrement as a means to vandalize school property. In the boys’ bathrooms, students and staff members have been unfortunate enough to encounter human feces spread on the floor, walls, toilet seats, and stall doors.
Often, the custodial staff needs to close the vandalized bathrooms to make repairs and restore the area back to safe, hygienic conditions, sometimes forced to block access for hours and even days at a time. Unfortunately, the temporary loss of privileges doesn’t seem to discourage the vandals from resuming their behavior.
“As soon as we open the restrooms back up – the very first day we reopen them – they go ahead and vandalize them again,” explained LGHS Head of Maintenance Daniel Herrera.“It’s gross enough just to hear about it. Just think about how gross it is for the custodian that has to clean it” Herrera commented. “When there’s a mess on campus, somebody has to deal with it. That somebody is us… I know there are accidents, but this is intentional. What is this kid thinking? Are they mad at us? Because they know who cleans the bathroom. It’s us.”
According to the custodial department, the main issues within the girls’ restrooms rarely extend beyond graffiti and mild cases of littering.
The administration has also taken steps to express their strong disapproval of students using the restrooms as a place to vape and smoke in secret – an issue known to be prominent among both the male and female components of the student body.
At the beginning of the second semester, students returned to campus to discover a laminated newsletter hanging on the back of each stall door in the restrooms. The Stall Seat Journal, (“Keeping Sh*t Real Since 2020”) called for students to put an end to the disrespectful behavior.
In an interview, the anonymous student-author stated: “There’s not much students can do to improve the quality of the bathroom [beyond] basic respect. Just imagine maintenance cleaning up your mess at the end of the day. Vandalism doesn’t disappear once you do it. The school’s money (which could be going to improving the bathrooms) and maintenance’s time has to go to fixing your problem.”
According to Principal Kristina Grasty, “immediately following [the release of the newsletter,] there was a decline in incidents.”
Upon being asked what students, who aren’t participating in the vandalism, can do to help, Herrera stated: “If kids know something, the best thing I think they can do is report it to the administrator. If you let it slide, turn a blind eye, it’s just going to let things get worse. It’s affecting everyone. The bathrooms are getting closed, not just for the kid that’s doing it, but everyone else has to pay the same consequences.”
Despite the problematic situation that’s been forced upon them, the custodial staff continues to harbor a great deal of sympathy for the students behind the vandalism. Rather than express anger or frustration, Herrera only shared concern for the person’s wellbeing. “I don’t know what, but something is wrong. I hope they’re able to get some help,” he commented. “At this school, We deal with everything. We do it to maintain safety. We do it for the kids. It’s unfortunate that we’re the ones that have to address this, but it’s just what has to be done.”