Editorial: It’s time to clean up Lincoln’s bathrooms

Boy’s, girl’s and the gender-neutral bathroom have broken, clogged and dirty sinks. While bathrooms are cleaned by janitorial staff, few repairs have been made.

Why haven’t Lincoln’s restrooms been fixed yet?

Make no mistake: criticism of these worn-down washrooms is nothing new. One of the most common complaints about Lincoln’s fractured, crumbling infrastructure is the lack of accessibility in many of its bathrooms.

Broken stalls, shattered mirrors and slick floors is accepted as the new status quo; it is a byproduct of the mindset that Lincoln students are perfectly fine with worn-down bathrooms so long as the new building improves upon them. But such a mindset is dangerous because it disregards the fact that none of these students will be here at the time of the building’s completion.

While on the surface Lincoln appears to have been taking immediate action to improve its bathrooms– installing a gender-neutral bathroom in junior hall, and recently adding women’s health products to girls’ bathrooms –there lie severe, but fixable underlying problems that require immediate attention.

One of the largest problems is that Lincoln is running out of space for students to be able to access the bathroom. Every single boys’ and girls’ bathroom in Lincoln has an out-of-order stall. While one or two broken stalls may not make a major difference, ten-plus stalls all writhing in their death throes have an outsized effect on access to the bathroom throughout the school.

“There are lines that form in the girls’ bathrooms,” says junior Sammie Howard. “Between periods, or during lunch or FLEX, it’s impossible to get in there and take care of your business.”

Secondly, many of the bathrooms’ basic amenities have been compromised. Water pressure varies by sink, often proving explosive; meanwhile, of the few stalls that are not broken, almost none have functional locks. Frighteningly, because of a lack of action by those in the power to make improvements in facilities, many of these amenities have remained compromised for an extended period of time.

“The sophomore girls’ bathroom last year? Absolutely nuts,” says junior Lauren Battey. “There was a leaky roof, so you would have trash bags just filled with water. And there was a sink … just on the floor. For the whole year. They just took it out [recently]. And it’s not like we didn’t ask to have it removed, either.”

But while communication about the bathrooms’ problems may be one issue, student mistreatment of them is another. Stories are all too common about students locking the sophomore girls’ bathroom from the inside, further holding up traffic and exacerbating existing problems of miscommunication. And one needn’t venture too far into any bathroom to be hit with the cotton-candy scent of vape juice, discouraging many students from visiting the bathrooms altogether.

From a student’s perspective, it’s easy to say that we should fix all of Lincoln’s problems without acknowledging that some of them are unfixable. For instance, the longer wait time for girls’ bathrooms, despite having an equal amount to the boys’. But there are immediately reparable problems that, for whatever reason, aren’t being fixed, forcing students to either take care of their business when it’s uncomfortable or not take care of it at all.

While PPS may think the new building of the future excuses them of responsibility in fixing the bathrooms of the present, they still have a responsibility to make sure students have clean and safe access to bathrooms.