Vandalism, plumbing among bathroom-related issues

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Vandalism, plumbing among bathroom-related issues

Gavin Ewen, Sectional Editor

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On Tuesday, Jan. 14, a toilet in the girls bathroom in the English hallway started to overflow. The water began coming up through drains, and the issue needed immediate attention.

On Friday, Jan. 17, the boys pool bathroom was vandalized with spitballs everywhere and a door had been ripped off one of the stalls.

And as of Jan. 27, there was still no door on a stall in the girls bathroom in the English hallway.

With all these issues arising, students often come to EGHS administrators and staff asking why the bathrooms look unpleasant. The response recently has been pretty straightforward.

“I respond by saying we are always having to fix the bathrooms or redo them so quickly that we can’t worry about looks,” EGHS associate principal for operations Kyle Burritt said.

A trending issue with the bathrooms at EGHS has hit its peak. From tagging and vandalism, all the way to flushing objects down toilets, the EGHS custodial staff has seen it all this year while fixing the bathrooms. Students and school workers have started to become frustrated with these now commonplace bathroom issues.

Burritt said that the issues with vandalism and plumbing have felt constant this year in particular.

“This has only been a problem the last few years,” Burritt said. “About three or four years ago this was never really a problem.”

In the first semester this year, the main issue building and operations staff had encountered was flushing objects down the toilet. Items such as vaping cartridges were being flushed down toilets and urinals, which clog them up and affect the plumbing.

Fixing a clogged pipe entails ripping the whole toilet off the wall, fixing the clog, and then putting the toilet back on. This can be a three- to four-hour project, according to John Hummel, the building and grounds supervisor at EGHS.

Recently, another issue that building and operations staff have witnessed on the rise includes vandalism and tagging. Some students will use permanent marker and draw different tags on the wall or on the stall doors, Hummel said. Permanent marker is nearly impossible for maintenance staff to get off the wall, and graffiti remover is the only way to get rid of it.

EGHS custodians encountered a similar issue with object vandalism in the bathrooms. For example, recently, staff had fixed a cracked mirror in the math and science hallway boys bathroom. Burritt said the project was done at 7:30 p.m., the night before. By 9:00 a.m., the next morning, the mirror was cracked again. As of the morning of Jan. 28, there was still no mirror on the wall.

Hummel said that the custodial staff spends an average of 20-30 hours per week fixing or working on the bathrooms.

“It’s starting to become nonsense because it takes time out of our days to work on other projects,” Hummel said.

Since then, nobody has replaced the mirrors in that bathroom, because of the potential of having to fix yet another cracked one.

Burritt said these actions by students have a direct effect on others and their time throughout the day. Fixing bathroom-related problems can sometimes be day-long projects. Other non-bathroom updates or fixes around the school aren’t handled immediately because the custodial staff is usually working on something in the bathrooms.

Burritt said he and Principal Paul Kelly are getting a lot of student complaints about the bathrooms. Students are often redirected to a different bathroom because others are being repaired or closed, meaning they often have to walk to the foyer or other areas.

“It’s very frustrating for students because they want to go to the bathroom, but they can’t because they are constantly being fixed due to these student actions,” Burritt said.   

Sophomore Gideon Rosado said sometimes the bathrooms can become very dirty. Rosado said he is aware of the issues going on in the bathroom and said he wants them to stop.

Freshman Abby Sprenger echoed Rosado, saying she feels that the bathrooms are always messy.

“I feel like they are always dirty or something wrong with them,” Sprenger said. “There is always a door missing, or it’s flooding. And people are always doing other things in there.”

Hummel said his staff is having to deal with triple the amount of problems compared to last school year.

“We have had to call in a few companies because the sewers and plumbing are clogged up with vape pens and things that shouldn’t be put down the toilet or sink,” Hummel said.

This year, students have received some punishments for bathroom vandalism and related actions. Sometimes the punishment comes in the form of a bill home to pay for damages, and some have had time cut off from their extracurricular activities.

Burritt said it can be very hard to track the students who are perpetrating the bathroom vandalism. Cameras are located outside of bathrooms, but it can be difficult for the administration to locate the offenders.

Although custodians and administrators say they hope it gets better, it seems to them and students that the issue is getting snowballing almost every week.

“This is becoming worse than ever, and the worst it’s been in recent memory,” Burritt said.