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The Round Table

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The Round Table

The student news site of Stamford High School

The Round Table

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Locking Bathrooms Isn’t Just Inconvenient—It’s Illegal. The Answer is More Security Guards.

Senior+Caroline+Fay+stands+distraught+at+encountering+yet+another+locked+bathroom.
Molly Fitzgerald
Senior Caroline Fay stands distraught at encountering yet another locked bathroom.

In a 2021 Round Table feature, when interviewed about the numerous locked bathrooms across Stamford High’s three school buildings, Security Guard James “JJ” Jordan said that “we’re short on security,” and made a point to mention that locking bathrooms was only a temporary solution. 

This prediction has not come to pass, as evidenced by the plethora of complaints from the student population over the past two years.

This issue, while reflective of a national phenomenon, is far more than an everyday annoyance. Shawn Reed and Veronica Negrelli from Connecticut’s Building Department told the Round Table that, by law, there has to be one lavatory available for every 50 students (regardless of gender) in any public high school building. Stamford High has 2,145 enrolled students and 27 bathrooms across all three buildings. In order for the school to be in accordance with Connecticut building codes, we would need at least 43 student bathrooms.

While troubling on its own, this issue is exacerbated by the serial locking of student bathrooms in order to “combat” the phenomenon of students using the spaces to skip class. We’re all familiar by now with the “SHS Bathrooms” spreadsheet, which students are encouraged to use to check the availability of bathrooms across all three buildings. According to the spreadsheet (which is provided and endorsed by SHS administration), 7 of 27 (just over a quarter) of bathrooms are closed at all times, with an additional two in Building B closed during lunch. Given that we already lack the adequate number of bathrooms to support our school’s population, it’s not unreasonable to argue that further limiting bathroom availability is extremely counterintuitive. 

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It is important to note that this spreadsheet isn’t always reliable; it (from what I can tell) hasn’t been updated since school started in August. This poses another issue for students: if the spreadsheet doesn’t reflect accurate, time-relevant information, we spend our short five-minute bathroom breaks trying to interpret a spreadsheet that often doesn’t have true data. Lavatories that are advertised as open occasionally aren’t and vice versa. This resource, originally intended to aid students, is contributing to the time students waste wandering around the buildings, hoping to accidentally stumble upon a viable place to relieve themselves. 

Stamford High legally does not have enough bathrooms to support our large (and growing) student population. This is worsened by bathroom lockages across all buildings, most of which aren’t adequately communicated to the student population. If you do manage to find an open bathroom, you’ll likely find that it lacks full usability, forcing you to go on the hunt once again. This system wastes the time students could spend in class, instead leading to 10-minute-long hikes around the building, inconveniencing students, teachers, and security alike.

Luckily, there are some solutions to this issue. Many schools across the country have begun implementing “vape detectors” in their school’s bathrooms, hypothetically alerting administration when vaping is detected. Another solution could be removing the exterior doors to bathrooms, making it more difficult for students to hide nefarious activities. The most effective solution, however, is simply to hire more security guards. Our current staff is stretched far too thin, and additional help would go a long way in solving the issue entirely. While this is a tall order (schools are already suffering from staff shortages), it would undoubtedly benefit the school’s entire population, making SHS a more comfortable, accessible place.

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