By Zachary Blackwell
Elm Staff Writer
Minnesota students are outraged after their high school administrators implemented a new policy that limits their bathroom use.
To limit vaping and vandalism in the bathrooms of Stillwater Area High School, its administrators have started to lock these areas during class time. But this new policy has received significant resistance from the school’s students, who say that the practice is unfair and has disrupted learning time, according to the Stillwater Gazette.
The principal of the school, Rob Bach, said that he did not anticipate such a strong response against the new policy, which dictates that six of the school’s 14 restrooms are to be locked during class time and reopened briefly in between classes, when teachers have the chance to monitor the students.
“We aren’t the first high school to lock the bathroom when there’s an issue. It’s common practice,” Bach said to the Star Tribune.
Despite Bach’s statement, some students believe that the policy change has unfairly punished everyone without resolving the root of the issue: drug use amongst the student population. Some have even argued that the school has attempted to quickly fix the problem to protect the school’s reputation.
Bach has said that vaping is a concern for many schools across the country, and that the school has tried to educate students, as well as their parents, about the potential risks, according to the Star Tribune. The school has also hired a chemical health specialist that helps students who are addicted to vaping. Unfortunately, the school’s administrators were led to lock bathrooms during class time because of repeated incidents of vaping in the bathrooms and the vandalization of sinks.
As a result of the locked bathroom policy, the students have expressed their discontent on the internet. Numerous videos, memes, and rap songs have been made for a website created by students making light of this problematic issue.
The students have even made an Instagram page, titled “Let Us Pee” that originally served as a satirical response to the school’s policy shift but has since become a rallying cry for students, according to the Associated Press. Most importantly, the online response by students has demonstrated how the student body is able to unite around a common cause.
The administration of Stillwater may have been too quick to attempt to solve the issues of vaping and vandalism in school bathrooms. Their response, banning the use of some bathrooms outside of class time, represents how difficult it is to curb the behavior of some students while also assuring that other students aren’t hindered in any way. Punishing the entire student population for the actions of a few is perhaps the simplest option to take, but that does not mean it is the best option, or even an option that will fix things at all.
The band-aid solution of banning bathroom uses may not be able to completely prevent vaping or the vandalization of school property. It is a solution that impedes on the ability of other students to learn in the classroom and to have a comfortable experience at school, where they are expected to be productive. Banning the use of bathrooms is simply not a solution that will work.