Intending to address years’ worth of school-wide bathroom vandalism and misconduct, Jensen Beach High School’s administration and Student Government Association (SGA) developed an alternative method of discipline that has used pep-rally-style competition to encourage bathroom etiquette. On Feb. 13, this disciplinary method replaced the strict bathroom closures that had prohibited students from using all but one teacher-supervised set of bathrooms for the past month.
Three days before this change, all classes at Jensen Beach High School in Jensen Beach, Florida were required to watch a brief, 3-minute video created by the school’s TV production class in tandem with SGA.
The video depicted a group of TV production students who role-played as members of varying classes having a conversation about bathrooms. A senior talked down to a freshman, stating that “they were the reason” the bathrooms were always closed. A similar comment was returned by the freshman to the senior.
The video then stated that the school would be implementing a competition-based method of addressing bathroom misusage. Out of the four sets of bathrooms within the school, two would be designated for underclassmen (freshman and sophomores) and the other two designated for upperclassmen (juniors and seniors). A positive incentive for keeping the bathrooms clean was not described. Instead, the competition was said to result in a determination of who “really is responsible” for causing destruction to the bathrooms.
Within a couple days of the disciplinary method’s implementation, there were already reports of isolated vandalism in the underclassmen boys bathroom, according to SGA President and JBHS senior Saheli Patel.
Patel believes this is a good thing. “I definitely do think this has helped by slowly getting [the suspect pool] down to who is causing the issue, because when we had one bathroom, we didn’t know who was causing the issue, you know? All of us were using the [one] bathroom, so who do we need to punish?” she said.
Certain underclassmen, despite experiencing a bulk of the allegations, also believe in the alternative punishment. “I think the competition aspect of it will make people more inclined to not destroy the bathrooms.” said JBHS Freshman Luke Parr.
It remains to be seen whether there will be any individual punishment or whether the school will see any long-term change as a result of this new disciplinary measure. But Patel states that it has accurately represented the school’s values thus far. “We are genuinely a very competitive school… …we have that ‘lowerclassmen-upperclassmen’ competition in our heads during pep rallies. That mindset kind of goes along with these bathrooms. We want to win. We don’t want to be the issue.”