School bathrooms: too often a trying experience

May 10, 2023 — by Sarah Zhou
Photo by Minsui Tang
The 000-wing women’s bathroom in all its glory.
Many students try to hold it in until they get home for good reason.

As we progress toward the end of the school year, I think we all know by now that using the restroom on campus is no easy feat, and I’m not just talking about the cleanliness and quality of the bathrooms themselves — the whole process is painful.

For starters, the mere act of getting approval to go can be a difficult task. Some teachers require you to get verbal approval from them, meaning if they’re in the middle of a lecture or talking to the class, you have to raise your hand to interrupt them and inform the entire class that your bladder is full. 

This process becomes especially humiliating when the class is having a discussion, and someone else has just asked a thought-provoking question. Instead of providing some intelligent response, you follow up with “Can I go to the bathroom?”

But wait, it gets worse. Instead of a direct response, some teachers will respond with comments like “That’s not an interesting question … just GO!!!” leaving the class giggling as you rush out the door. Or, you might even be met with the dreaded no — sorry, I guess I’ll just wet myself then.

Other teachers allow students to just go to the bathroom — no need to ask for permission or explain. While this lenient policy seems to eliminate the possible complications I explained above, it also feels incredibly awkward just to walk out of the classroom without saying anything. What if they think I wasn’t planning on coming back? I always feel the need to clarify why I’m leaving the room so that I don’t get marked absent, but you can’t do that when they already explicitly informed the class that they don’t need to be told about bathroom trips.

As far as I’m concerned, the best solution is for all teachers to implement a bathroom sign-out board or sheet (with name, time-in and time-out categories) near the door or front of the room so that students can freely come and “go” as they please while still keeping teachers informed on their whereabouts. 

The problem doesn’t stop there, however. Once you actually make it to the bathroom, you’ll also find that the size of stalls between bathrooms in different wings is incredibly inequitable. For instance, the sheer quality difference between the 600-wing bathrooms and the 000-wing bathrooms (my personal favorite) is astounding. 

Not only are the 000-wing stalls wider, but the bathroom also is always cleaner. Moreover, the 000-wing faucets are the type that don’t require you to press down the entire time you need water, and are positioned far out enough so that the back of your hands won’t be touching the dirty sink wall the whole time you wash. 

Sorry to all my teachers who wonder why I take 10 minutes to go to the bathroom sometimes — I’m always willing to make the pilgrimage to the 000-wing for the elevated experience (also, I just never know where the closest bathrooms are, even if my class is on the other side of campus). Never settle, ladies. 

Though completely remodeling the regular-use stalls to be wide enough for you to open the door and simultaneously get out of the stall without all of your clothes touching the dirty divider and swapping out the faucets probably won’t be happening in the new future — since apparently fixing the plastic lock on that inner 600-wing stall is SO difficult (it’s been two years and I’m still waiting) — I will still be praying for it. 

Another issue: The place where some students arguably spend the most time — the science building — is absolutely bathroomless. We should not have to sprint across campus in a panic to use the bathroom every time our bladders fill up right before a test. The nearest bathroom is past the 700-wing, and to make things worse, “the Rector students are always staring at you when you enter,” junior Nikhil Mathihalli said. I think Mr. Rector needs some Royaltey-style curtains. 

There are, however, some things everyone can do to improve bathroom experiences. Let’s talk etiquette: DO flush the toilet. Nearly everyone at SHS during the school day is at least 14 years old — that’s nearly 1.5 decades of practicing pressing or hitting a handle. DO NOT get all your waste on the toilet seats and the floor. I’ve seen the literal 💩 emoji on the floor, and it wasn’t even in the stall 🤮.

Also, please give us paper towels. The 0.000001 ply toilet paper is way too flimsy to dry your hands with, and ever since Mr. Yim’s lecture about dirty bathroom particles being blown onto your hands last year, I haven’t been able to look at the hand dryers the same. I’m getting tired of wiping my hands on my own shirt when my friends aren’t around.

Even though many of the necessary physical changes to the bathrooms likely won’t be happening for quite some time, I hope this story leads to some hygienic and behavioral improvements for students while they are using the bathroom.

3 views this week