Students Suffer Toll of Unsanitary Restrooms

El Vaquero Staff Writer

A large cup of coffee or a bottle of energy drink is usually what keeps many college students going throughout the day. While the clock ticks in class and food churns away in the stomach, the urge to use a restroom becomes top priority. Unfortunately, when the last few seconds of class end, a mad dash to the nearest restroom is not enough to bring relief.

All the stalls are occupied and the entire restroom reeks from one useless stall to another, with certain unmentionables that a previous someone left in the un-flushed toilet bowl, complemented by haphazardly placed toilet paper and disfigured seat covers strewn across the floor.

“Gross” and “disgusting” are some of the most popular words students use to describe these bathrooms situations. This is definitely the worst-case scenario that most students have encountered in certain restrooms on campus.

The need for hygiene comes to mind when coming across what Art History student Jacqueline Strafaci calls a “toilet paper explosion.” Hygiene, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus, is a science of the establishment and maintenance of health, but in layman’s terms, it is a way to prevent infections through cleanliness.

Although the school’s custodial staff takes the responsibility of maintaining the cleanliness of the campus, they cannot do it without students’ cooperation. “There are 23 custodians working on the GCC campus,” said Lew Lewis, Director of Facilities, “But we’re short eight people and there should be total of about 30 or 40 people on the staff.”

There is an abundance of restrooms on campus, but he said that there is no excuse for the bathrooms being filthy. It is strictly a management problem, which they are trying to solve through the day and night shift staff distribution of “policing” campus cleanliness.

According to Lewis, the day crew has a much harder time working because they get a variety of interruptions that makes it harder for them to focus on their work. Unfortunately, there are only five custodians working the day shift along with thousands of other people who make it difficult for them to keep the school in check. The school is going to redirect the day shift people and redistribute their workload throughout the entire campus so that the school is consistently being cleaned throughout the day.

Lewis said that when the night crew comes in for cleaning, they have fewer distractions, but management is going to try to change the cleaning schedule for the night shift. According to Lewis, the night shift would work from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. when there would not be any people on campus to interrupt them while they work to make the school as clean as possible.

Current GCC student Samuel Cruz thinks that some students might care about the cleanliness of the restrooms, but most probably do not even bother. However, Lewis said, “Restrooms, to me, are the number one priority.”

Students do not realize that the job of maintaining restroom hygiene is difficult. “When people are at home, they don’t throw the paper on the floor at their houses. They don’t clog the sink with paper. They don’t clog up the toilets,” said Lewis.

“They [students] treat the school restrooms like they have their own personal servants. It is an ongoing thing,” he said. “The school is for the students. If it is treated like trash, it is going to stay [looking] like trash.”

“Vandalism is another serious, serious thing that is happening to the restrooms, to a point where we’re taking mirrors out of the restrooms because they’re so scratched up and etched up that you can’t even see into the mirrors,” added Lewis.

Some students have not even seen what others have done in the student restrooms. People have thrown excrement on the walls and urinate on the toilets standing up in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. “It’s terrible,” Lewis said.

Trashing the restrooms is costing the school money to clean up the mess or replace damaged property. Each huge restroom mirror costs about $300 and the filters that are getting clogged up cost about $40 apiece.

It is even harder for the custodial staff to maintain the cleanliness of the campus when there are thousands of students who do not cooperate with keeping the campus nice, clean and pretty.
“Maybe [hygiene] should be part of the [GCC] orientation to take better care of and pride in the college,” said Lewis. “This college is a pretty place, and I really like it.”