Vandalism leaves students and staff
By Lila Cohen, Deputy Editor, & Savannah Butcher, Managing Editor
Since September, when students finally entered the building at full capacity, VHS has dealt with a significant amount of vandalism.
While vandalism is present in many forms and is prevalent in nearly every corner of the building, the bathrooms have been most affected.
“A pattern that we’re noticing is that students are caught… congregating in the bathrooms, and… defacing and vandalizing the bathrooms with surprising and upsetting regularity,” VHS assistant principal John Erickson said.
In an attempt to mitigate the problem VHS has implemented measures that inconvenience all students, even the ones who aren’t perpetrators.
“The whole school [has] lost privileges because of [the vandalism], so I’m annoyed at the minority of students who [are causing] the damage,” senior Levi Stahl said.
So far, in response to the vandalism, VHS admin has removed paper towels from the bathrooms and encouraged teachers to limit hall-pass use, in addition to briefly proposing a plan to install cameras outside the restrooms. Community and legal pushback caused VHS to pause their plan to install cameras.
“I think [it is]the administration’s role to enforce the cleanliness of the bathrooms, but I also do not agree with the addition of cameras outside the bathrooms. I think that [they are] a violation of privacy even if they only show which stall people go in,” an anonymous student said.
VHS administration has focused on broad disciplinary action to combat the vandalism but some students feel a more individualized approach is called for.
“The administration [needs] to do more to find the people involved and punish them, not the whole school… That, of course, is not easy but still expected,” Stahl said.
The vandalism has occurred in both the gendered and all-gendered bathrooms, but the all-gendered bathrooms are often damaged more frequently. The vandalism has cost VHS thousands of dollars in repairs in addition to hours of labor that have had to be redirected to help clean up the mess.
Not only is the vandalism costly, but it creates an undesirable environment for all students and the damage to the all-gendered bathrooms especially affects the LGBTQ+ community.
“As a trans student I feel that people assume that no one only uses the all gender bathrooms… It’s very challenging to feel comfortable and welcome when every stall in the all-gendered bathrooms is disgusting,” an anonymous student said.
Students are asking their peers to recognize how their actions affect the learning environment of everyone in the building.
“… [The all-gender bathrooms] are not a place to trash and hang out with your friends. People worked hard to get those bathrooms into our school and they are a great thing for more people than you might assume,” an anonymous student said.
VHS administration is doing what they can to solve the problem but at the end of the day it is up to students to do their part in taking care of the school.
“This is our space. We spend more of our waking hours here than we do most of the time, even our own homes. So we should all rally together to make it a space where we can… focus on what’s most important, and that’s our education and supporting one another,” Erickson said.
Many students echo the administration and are calling on their peers to treat the school and community with respect.
“Stop being idiots! Your decision to damage our beautiful school is meaningless and overall impacts everyone negatively. If you think it’s cool to vandalize, it’s not, and you’ll hopefully realize that in the future,” Stahl said.