Security guards not needed in the restroom

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Photo by Adan Villa

Chronicle reporter Tim Sigidin washes his hands in one of the restrooms on campus.

By Wildcat Chronicle Staff

There is a problem that plagues America and that problem is located in a place where stall doors are supposed to offer privacy and security, but instead harbor suspicion: school bathrooms. 

The “bathroom problem” started last year when the Andy Frain staff on campus changed, and new security guards replaced familiar faces. Since then, there has been what we would describe as intense surveillance when students are using the restroom. It has become a common scene to walk into a restroom and see a security guard standing in the corner with a stern look on his/her/their face as if an actual police officer investigating a crime. It is very awkward while you are trying to wash and dry your hands to have someone staring you down. Students feel pressure during this process to hurry up because of the looming presence. Some, who are going about their personal business, feel judged by the security guards’ presence. 

Additionally, knocking on stalls while in use is not respecting someone’s privacy. Vaping and other issues are still present more than ever, so overall, the increased security is not solving any problems.

Many reporters on staff have been accused of suspicious behavior when waiting for a friend to finish in the restroom, even though they were innocent of any accusations. What good are security guards if other students can build shrines and Devious Lick soap (and whatever else they stole during the month of October)? 

Reporter Tim Sigidin looks into the mirror in the restroom. Photo taken in an empty restroom with security’s permission. (Photo by Adan Villa)

From a staff perspective, the administrators may believe they are helping students and maintaining order, but the reality is that nothing has really changed.  Security guards may be placed outside and in restrooms to stop vandalization and destruction of school property under the guise of helping students, but “to protect students, school restrooms must balance safety and privacy needs.” As outlined by American School & University, a site which tracks trends in schools across the nation, the reality is that a balance must be struck: administrators must implement safety measures and security in the bathrooms, but students are entitled to privacy as well. 

We maintain that the presence of security guards in and near the restrooms at West Chicago Community High School creates a sense of pressure. Students believe they have a time limit or expectation when it comes to using the bathroom. The Pony Express editorial staff shares our opinion: “Some students have complained of security guards ushering them out of bathrooms after 45 seconds.”

Ultimately, as 14+ year-olds, we do not need help using the bathroom, and we have a right to privacy while using the facilities.

We encourage students to voice their opinions on this topic so they can get the privacy they deserve. Administration should understand that not everyone is misbehaving when using the restroom: most of the time, individuals are just doing their business.

There should be guidelines established with regard to security in the bathroom so the pressure and awkwardness felt by students when using the bathroom is reduced. For example, the security guards should remain outside the restrooms, unless a need arises (a student is in the restroom for five minutes or more). At that point, the security guard should announce their presence before entering the premises. Instead of assuming students are behaving malevolently, the security staff should take a tone of concern and ask the student what is going on, and whether they are okay.

There needs to be awareness brought to this issue so students in our school, as well as schools across the country, can feel comfortable using the bathroom – their human right.