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  • Writer's pictureSarah Samra

Empty Dispensers and Unhygienic Conditions: Students Call for Improved Restroom Facilities at Kennedy High School

In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 367 into law, which requires pads and tampons to be provided in girls' public school restrooms. However, it seems that the dispensers in Kennedy High School have been empty for quite some time.

Restrooms are a crucial facility for students, and it is essential that they are clean and hygienic. Unfortunately, many students face challenges when it comes to finding well-maintained restrooms. One common issue is the lack of essential supplies such as soap, towels, and toilet paper. This can be highly inconvenient and unhygienic, as these items are necessary for maintaining cleanliness and preventing the spread of germs.

Girls, in particular, face additional challenges in restrooms. For example, it can be distressing and unsanitary to find menstrual-cycle products left open on the bathroom floor. This reflects a lack of proper disposal facilities and creates an uncomfortable and embarrassing situation for female students. Furthermore, the presence of blood on toilet seats is highly concerning and unsanitary, posing health risks for all restroom users.

These issues significantly impact students, causing frustration, discomfort, and worries about their well-being. It is important to note that addressing these problems is not an attack on anyone but rather a recognition of general information that everyone should be aware of.

School custodians face several challenges in their efforts to keep the bathrooms clean and well-maintained. One major issue they encounter is having to clean up after students who misuse or abuse the facilities. In both the boys' and girls' restrooms, there is often urine and feces on the bathroom floors. This not only frustrates the custodians but also creates additional unhygienic challenges for them to overcome. Despite their best efforts to do their job, they have to deal with these unpleasant situations daily.

When walking into the restroom, sophomore Meadow Johnson first noticed it was very unclean and unhygienic. The dispenser for pads and tampons was empty and hadn't been refilled for as long as she had been at the school. Johnson believes that if the school provided feminine products in the restroom, it would be much easier for everyone, and would help girls' challenges with managing their cycles with hygenic products.

“Once the menstrual cycle products are restocked, I hope that students will utilize them for their intended purpose rather than misusing them,” Johnson said.

Additionally, she suggests that toilet seat covers be provided. It is common to find urine residue and other bodily fluids on the toilet seats, and sitting directly on them can be unpleasant and unsanitary. Overall, Johnson believes that having these products available in the restroom would make it more user-friendly and accessible for all girls.

According to James Hernandez, the Kennedy Plant Manager, custodial staff initially complied with the law by providing the necessary items in the restrooms. However, they quickly encountered a problem when they discovered that students had scattered products around the restrooms, even ending up in the toilets and causing plumbing issues. As a result, they had to stop supplying the dispensers. 

Hernandez said that menstrual cycle products can be found in the counseling office and Student Support Center.

He also brought up the need to restock pads and tampons in the girls' restroom regularly. Furthermore, he emphasized the significance of consistently maintaining paper towels, toilet paper, and soap in the restrooms. Unfortunately, there is a delay in receiving restroom supplies, with shipments taking three weeks to arrive. Hernandez assured that efforts are being made to address this issue. Additionally, he noted that a broken sink in the restroom will be replaced soon, but it will take some time. He also said that a student had put graffiti on the bathroom wall, making it difficult for them to clean. As a solution, he plans to have the bathroom wall repainted. He requested that students refrain from putting inappropriate content on the wall. 

Attempted removal of inappropriate content on a bathroom wall. Damage like this is widespread across all bathrooms.

"I think it's not fair to other students on campus, but I hope that students will understand their actions and start making changes and create a safe environment for everyone,” Hernandez said. 

Furthermore, Hernandez mentioned that some students are causing blockages by disposing of food in the toilets. He suggested that the school administration should put up signs in every restroom prohibiting food disposal in toilets.

Hot food that was left in the restroom on the toilet. Food like this is found across all bathrooms.

Recently, Kennedy junior Jenise Jafari expressed her concerns about various issues regarding safety and cleanliness, specifically the improper disposal of period pads and the discovery of blood on toilet seats. Jafari emphasized the importance of teenagers being aware of proper wrapping and disposal of period pads. She also suggested that the school provide menstrual products in the restrooms for convenience, as some students feel uncomfortable asking the office for them. Additionally, Jafari called for the implementation of designated bins for period products to improve hygiene and reduce incidents of finding them on toilet seats.  

Trash in the restroom/misuse of feminine hygiene waste can. Waste like this is widespread across all bathrooms. According to Plant Manager James Hernandez, menstrual cycle product can be find in the counseling office and Student Support Center

"I believe that it is important for individuals to clean up after themselves and show respect for restroom facilities,” Jafari said. “We must acknowledge our responsibility towards our school and recognize the effort required from us as members of this community. We must prioritize being mindful of the conditions in our school and take action to improve them”. 

Additionally, she highlighted the importance of including our school as a significant aspect of our job essay, ensuring that it is portrayed in a positive light rather than as frustrating or unpleasant.

Junior Cameran Skinner shared several issues regarding the boys' restroom near F-wing and B-wing. Firstly, as of this writing, the sinks in this restroom are currently out of order, which poses safety concerns for students. Additionally, Skinner has noticed a need for more supplies in the boys' restrooms, impacting the hygiene and well-being of students. Skinner has expressed discomfort as inappropriate activities have been taking place in the restroom, negatively impacting other students. These concerns must be addressed promptly to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all. Skinner suggests that supplies should be restocked daily in both the boys' and girls' restrooms, and expresses hope that this necessary action will be taken as soon as possible.

"I believe students should refrain from putting blame solely on the custodian, as they put in significant effort,” Skinner said. “I hope that students begin to take responsibility for their actions and contribute to creating a safer restroom environment for all their peers.”

By addressing these issues and ensuring that the restrooms are properly maintained, supplies restocked, and inappropriate activities prevented, we can create a comfortable and hygienic environment that promotes the well-being and safety of all students. 

Junior Syr Allen explained what was going on in the boys' restroom near F-wing. 

“One day, I walked into the boys' restroom near the F -wing and noticed a couple of guys vaping and smoking real cigarettes. On another day, I saw a half-empty bottle of alcohol," Allen said.

"Sometimes, it seems like some boys are trying to skip rest time by causing trouble in the restroom. They would throw soap over the mirror, seal the toilet paper, and waste paper on inappropriate activities.”

“I feel that not all monitors are doing their job properly. The only hall monitor I always see taking action is Mr. J. I believe that school custodians are doing their job, but some of them don't because they feel frustrated by the student's actions," Allen said.

"I think it's 50% the responsibility of the students and 50% the responsibility of the school custodians to keep the restrooms clean. Some students bring other students into the restroom, usually during passing periods. In the past, it used to happen more in the C-wing, but now it's more common in the F-wing.”

The change Allen would like to see is for students to stop playing around and stealing toilet paper. 

"I think the school should enforce the rules more strictly,” Allen said. “So that students understand the importance of following them.”

Broken sink that is constantly leaking and unusable.

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