Blazers bereft of bathrooms

Jan. 26, 2006, midnight | By Ashley Lau | 14 years, 11 months ago

Administration must open up about problems with restrooms

In England, they're called "loos." In Canada, they're "washrooms." At Blair, they're a dwindling presence. Our bathrooms seem to be "out of order" on a daily basis.

Over a month has passed since Blair's two arson incidents, and the affected girls' bathrooms on the second and third floors - closed due to fire damage - remain locked. Another went without a trash can for weeks, while a number of bathrooms are devoid of paper towels and other essential supplies. With this ongoing absence of functioning bathrooms, it's time for the school to either reopen them, give students an update on their status or stock up on supplies for the few bathrooms that are left to compensate for the significant loss of the others.

Ordinarily, a short maintenance closure would not be a problem. But Blair, with its large student body, is no ordinary school. Each upper-level floor has only two girls' and two boys' bathrooms serving over 50 classrooms on the second floor and over 30 classrooms on the third floor. Nearly 3,300 students shuffle through Blair's hallways everyday. As a result of the arson incidents, the number of girls' bathrooms on the second and third floors has dropped from four to two, leaving several hundred female students with a total of only two accessible bathrooms between the two floors.

Because of this decrease, the remaining bathrooms have been crowded and supplies have been low. Days passed without paper towels in the 160s girls' bathroom. Weeks went by without a trash can in the remaining third-floor girls' bathroom. We're losing not only open bathrooms at Blair, but also bathroom supplies.

Boys have also had their fair share of problems: Paper towels line the bathroom floors, sinks don't work and trash cans are often absent as well, leaving students disgruntled and uncomfortable. According to MCPS regulations, "properties shall be maintained in good physical condition: safe, clean, sanitary, comfortable and convenient." But with a shortage of cleanliness and supplies, the current status of Blair's bathroom situation is hardly in compliance with this guideline.

While lack of cleanliness results from a lack of open bathrooms, a more vital problem is the frustration caused by the closures. Both of the closed girls' bathrooms are on the stadium side of the school, meaning that the second and third floors only have open bathrooms on the school's Colesville Road side. Lady Blazers coming from the stadium side of Blair often lose class time walking to restrooms on the other side of the school.

Junior A'Gia Alston can attest to the aggravation caused by the lengthy closures. "God forbid if you find a bathroom that isn't closed," Alston says. "Running to the 320s from the 360s is not fun."

According to building services worker Bernice Musgrove, it will be a while before the bathrooms reopen. They still have to be repaired and repainted, and the extensive damage warrants a visit from contractors. And because the insurance company did not provide an estimate of the cost until Jan. 3, the repair process will be delayed even further. The bathrooms require more than a simple cleaning, and there is only so much building services can do.

If the bathrooms are not going to be unlocked any time soon, we should at least hear a formal announcement on their status or be given sufficient supplies to partially make up for the prolonged loss of two facilities. As students, we consider the place we study in just as important as the things we learn in class - and a building with bathroom closures, supply shortages and sanitation issues is not a comfortable environment in which to learn.

Ashley Lau. Born in Boston, Ashley is a huge Red Sox fan and sometimes wishes she could just live at Fenway Park. She loves to run, do tae kwon do, travel, cook, go to concerts and has a new obsession with the TV show 24. Someday Ashley … More »

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