Student bathrooms still a concern after last WASC visit

John Wei, Managing & Graphics Editor

Wet floors. Broken stalls. Flooded toilets. Nonexistent paper towels. Broken heat detector. If this sounds familiar, it is. It’s the current state of Bear Creek’s bathrooms.

WASC, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is returning for an audit of Bear Creek’s progress next year. If changes implemented since the last visit are found to be satisfactory, they will accredit the school for periods ranging from one year to six.

One of the concerns highlighted in the last WASC report was the accessibility and cleanliness of student bathrooms. Three years ago, the bathrooms at Bear Creek were found to be “locked and inaccessible to students” by the WASC visiting committee. The open bathrooms were found to be used by so many students that the floor was wet almost constantly and that used paper towels and trash would often litter the floor.

Three years later, the bathrooms are no longer locked at all times. Instead, they are open, but are barred from student use during the lunch break by the “yellow line policy,” implemented by the school’s new school safety plan. The condition of the only permanently accessible bathrooms during school hours—the Q bathrooms—are still the same, complete with wet towels on the floor, pizza boxes in toilets, used tampons on toilet seats and smushed oranges in the sinks.

These sights have become so commonplace that many students are no longer surprised by the acts of some of their more slovenly peers.

“[Students] aren’t disciplined,” freshman Genesis Campos said. “They throw Chinese food containers in the urinals.”

“I feel uncomfortable in the bathrooms,” senior Chloe Mason said. “They are disgusting. The first thing I think about them is AIDS. Locks are a serious issue—the bars [to close the stall] are always missing.”

Due to cuts in the school budget, only four custodians remain who have neither the time nor the manpower to clean the dirty bathrooms, let alone fix locks.

“We only have two hours to clean,” said Ray Kroeung, one of the four custodians responsible for cleaning the entire Bear Creek campus. “We can either vacuum as many classrooms as possible, or clean a single bathroom.”

The choice presented for them is obvious—why bother to clean a single bathroom, when they can clean multiple classes in the same timespan? Making the choice even more obvious is the fact that the bathrooms will be just as easily trashed the next day, undoing all the hard work that had been done the day prior.Even more alarming—the heat detector in the boys’ Q-building bathroom is broken. Currently, a fire set inside one of the bathrooms would not trigger any kind of alarm.

“It’s been broken for quite a while now,” campus supervisor Don Tirapelli confirmed.

Principal Bill Atterberry has been communicating with the custodial staff to make further improvements, but until more funding becomes available to the school, not much can be done for the campus besides the occasional checkup, let alone attempting to replace locks and alarms.

“I make sure to walk through the boys’ restrooms to check the conditions at least twice during each lunch,” Atterberry said. Atterberry also has Asst. Principal Sera Baysinger check the girls’ restrooms at least once every lunch.

There is a solution to the bathroom quandary—a simple one at that. Students must learn to respect public property instead of vandalizing the first thing they see.