By John Lee
There’s a reason why the bathroom policy is something schools tend not to involve themselves with. Our school is no exception, as the only rule pertaining to bathroom use is the restriction on leaving the classroom in the first and last ten minutes of the period. How much bathroom access is given to students thus rests in the hands of the teacher. Some are lenient and allow their students to simply raise their hands, ask, and take the hall pass on their way out of the classroom; others enact less permissive policies, perhaps by providing incentive to stay by giving a limited supply of bathroom passes that can be exchanged at the end of the semester for extra points, or sometimes by not letting students leave the classroom at all.
However, it is important that as students we understand why some teachers do not look favorably towards bathroom use. The simplest explanation is that we miss valuable class time. Even just missing five minutes to go to the bathroom takes away almost 10% of the period. Plus, teachers are not oblivious. They know that unless a student has a strange urge to urinate during the same period every single day, when someone is simply trying to get out of class. They know that students can easily abuse their time in the stall to use their cellphones, cheat on tests, or even just walk aimlessly around campus. Thus, rather than give us the benefit of the doubt that we aren’t disrespecting them and their classrooms, some teachers choose to get rid of this possibility completely.
Still, to deprive us of a right that we should be entitled to, not just as humans but as mammals, should not be justified by allowing the misguided actions of a few students to dictate what the rest of us can or cannot do.
We are no strangers to the common argument that we should have used our time during nutrition, lunch, or even passing period. Yet, attempting to use the bathroom during those times may prove to be an even more distressing situation. Anyone who has dealt with having to awkwardly stand in line in the crowded and smelly bathrooms knows this for a fact. It is simply a matter of common decency that we prefer to go during class, when we have enough privacy to physically relieve ourselves without having to give up mental relief.
Then, that’s not even taking into account the fact that our bladders’ schedules simply are not predictable. As much as we would like for our urges to urinate to only come around outside of class, we do not have much say over the matter. In fact, one of the only ways to suppress this need is by limiting the amount of water we drink, particularly in class. But, this proves much easier said than done. Living here in this semi-desert we call Southern California, we can find it extremely difficult to get through the day attentive and awake when we make ourselves vulnerable to dehydration just to avoid going to the bathroom.
Despite all that, the greatest hit isn’t just below the belt, but in our minds as well. It is demeaning, at the least, to face the embarrassment of interrupting class in order to ask to leave the classroom, the walk of shame up to the teacher’s desk, the frantic discomfort as we scribble down the time and “BR” in the column for destination, the way we walk in a tight shuffle in order to hold it all in. As unbearable the pressure in our bladders becomes, nothing will relieve the even more unbearable pressure of having to submit to the notion that somehow, by simply answering nature’s call, we have failed as students.
Hopefully, there will be a day when we can empty our bladders without filling ourselves with worry, when we can leave math class without the only numbers in our minds being numbers one and two. Although there may be some students who prove otherwise by still refusing to respect the privilege of going to the bathroom, we’re not toddlers whose hands need to be held.
No more embarrassment. No more bribing with incentives. No more getting out of class for illegitimate reasons. Let’s stop ignoring the issue and finally “take care of business.”