Vandalism hits bathrooms on campus


by Shannon O'Reilly & Nilesh Murali

There has been routine clogging of the toilets of the girls’ bathroom in Main Hall by excessive toilet paper, toiletries, and even food. Students, maintenance, and administration are all flummoxed by this vandalism.

This Wednesday after school, students rushed from the bathrooms in Shah after a pipe, which burst in the boys’ stall, flooded the restrooms.

It is not certain that it was done deliberately; however, after having spoken with J.R. Del Alto who was one of the first staff members on the scene, Greg Lawson, Assistant Head of School, suspects it was an act of vandalism.

‘He recognizes the tensile strength of metals and joints, and found the break that occurred in the pipe joint … to be highly unusual … unlikely to be the result of simple stress or aging,” Lawson said. “Whether it’s the result of some ridiculous horseplay or someone was angry enough to do some damage – that’s speculative.”

Howard Lio (11) was one of the first students to see water flood into Shah Hall. Acting quickly, he began moving backpacks and rugs away from the spill.

“It’s not heroic, it’s common sense,” he said, describing what he, along with others, witnessed.

Administration first became aware of the repetitive damage when maintenance saw it was a recurring and almost certainly deliberate act. The stuffing or items such as orange peels into the toilets clarified that the actions were not accidental. “Maintenance came to us and said they’d had enough,” Butch Keller, Head of Upper School, said.

Victor Moreno, a member of the janitorial staff, expressed his indignation at the state he saw the bathrooms in to the Winged Post. The vandalism was so extreme that although the janitors are assigned to specific areas, they would have to help each other in cleaning up the girls’ bathroom.  “Last year the situation wasn’t that bad,” he said, but it upsets him that the perpetrator(s) are showing a distinct lack of respect for the institution.

Administrators agree that it is an issue of social responsibility for the students to clean up after themselves and keep the school clean. For now, the administration is giving students the opportunity to fix it themselves. However, Keller admits it has not been so successful.

Sharron Mittelstet, English teacher, had seen the vandalism when she would leave Main Hall late. “I feel there’s a certain selfish arrogance involved… [they] feel that they are entitled to do that sort of thing,” she said. If she could say one thing to the perpetrator, Mittelstet would say, “Knock it off.”

At some point in the near future, the administration may be forced to step in. The entire student body may have to accept the consequences caused by the alleged saboteurs. As for now, there is no clear agreement among the administrators on how to solve the problem.

There have been rumors among students of the installation of portables for girls, locks on the bathroom doors, and video cameras in the hallways. However, administration has not given word of what its approach will be if the problem does not cease.

“I think it’s really immature of people to trash a bathroom… I am not totally sure what the administration would do to stop that kind of behavior,” Manasa Reddy (12) said.

Some students were surprised to hear of the situation. “It’s embarrassing that the administration is telling us girls to be cleaner. It’s like the boys are doing a better job than us. I always thought the main bathroom was gross because people never flushed, but it’s ridiculous that people put orange peels in there,” Shivani Bigler (10) said.

Student reactions have overall been similar. They see the vandalism of such facilities in the same way Keller does – “Immature and insecure.”

Junior class Vice President Tyler Koteskey thinks the administration is right in taking stringent measures. “With the boys’ bathroom, everything is pretty static…I generally notice that there is less paper towels on the floor. Obviously the food thing in the girls’ bathroom is ridiculous. Whoever is doing it is making a cry for attention, and they need to stop because that’s not the way you go about doing that,” he said. He also humorously mentioned a possible pillory system adapted from The Scarlet Letter.

Both students and administration are not eager to see the steps that may need to be taken. However, the effort to keep the bathrooms clean is under way. The topic was made an issue of discussion in advisory, complete with graphic pictures. Students are being asked to report to a staff member if they are aware of the on-goings in the Main Hall bathrooms.

“There’s more than one person who knows what’s going on. The way I see it, there’s a social responsibility for students to clean it up,” Keller said. “If you know about it, you’re also at fault.”