By Christopher Wong, Chief Editor
Kennedy is home to thousands of human teenagers, and all human beings have normal bodily functions, one of those being the need to use the excretory system. However, it is not an uncommon occurrence for all nearby restrooms to be locked, an everyday nightmare for the weak-bladdered student. The Clarion looked to find answers to this dilemma.
David Van Natten, Kennedy’s principal, explained some of the policy decisions. A restroom is usually locked during school hours for two reasons: the restroom is in need of repair or cleaning and if some type of activity occurred in the bathroom that requires the bathroom to be cleaned. “We never want to close a bathroom, and of course, we always try to reopen it as soon as possible. But, we also want to create an academic atmosphere for students that is first and foremost safe and second, one that is conducive to learning. If some activity, say smoking, has occurred inside a bathroom, we do not want other students to have to then use that bathroom until such time as it has been thoroughly cleaned or, at the very least, given a reasonable amount of time to air out,” Van Natten wrote in an email interview.
Some might also wonder why the restrooms are locked, punishing the whole school as opposed to punishing individual students. Mr. Van Natten answered, “It’s a two-pronged approach, and we absolutely do both. If behavior has occurred that is in violation of a school rule, the matter is addressed with the student(s) as appropriate. Depending on the specific nature of the behavior, different consequences and/or restoration agreements may apply.”
The Clarion also had the chance to talk to some of the hall monitors to clarify how they find out about illegal activities. In a light-hearted interview, Jose Marte explained, “A student tells us there was a kid smoking in the bathroom or we just walk in and smell it.” Max Conrad also answered why some restrooms are commonly locked. The F wing restrooms are closed in the morning for cleaning. The B wing indoor restrooms are closed for supervision issues. “There’s only 5 of us, so it’d be hard for us to watch every restroom,” he elaborated.
According to a recent Clarion student-body survey, 86% of students use the school restrooms. The restrooms must be maintained and unlocked to satisfy students’ and staff’s basic human functions. Nearly a third of students have been late to class due to a lack of restroom availability. Almost half of urinating students avoid the risk of being late to class and simply go to the restroom during instruction time. It is possible that policy changes to allow for less restricted restrooms could improve the situation, but it is important that students also follow school rules and not violate school rules and the law by abusing the water closet.
Stay tuned for further investigations on this issue here at jfkclarion.com.
Survey results shown here were tabulated by The Clarion staff January 9-11, 2017. Those results indicated Kennedy students answered some but not all questions listed on the surveys distributed on December 16, 2016. A total of 494 completed surveys were collected. Based on standard research formula, the margin of error is estimated to be as high as 5% on this poll.
Clarion photos shown here by John Lacey