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Taft Today

Taft Today

Mr. Grishaber, Open These Bathrooms!

Courtesy of reporter.
Courtesy of reporter.

On every floor in Taft, there lies two infuriatingly static doors. Tall, gray, and forever locked, those gates never swing on their hinges. Who knows what’s behind them? Garbage? Toilets? More squirrels? Alas, such lurid sights remain ensconced beyond the placards adorning these openings:

“THIS BATHROOM IS CLOSED!”

Of course, the doors stay shut by policy, not necessity. If we judged cleanliness, none of Taft’s bathrooms would be open. I doubt other justifications pass muster: our security has enough men to cover four extra restrooms – until this year, the guards managed just fine! Contrary to popular belief, Taft bathrooms aren’t colosseums – they’re relatively calm for the standards of CPS. 

So, if extra bathrooms didn’t cause a security crisis or released biohazards, what gives?

Taft’s administration is frustratingly opaque about its safety apparatus: last year, both campuses faced scandals borne of silence. Consequently, inferring policy behind the veil of CPS platitudes is somewhat…difficult. Still, it isn’t impossible – past actions can fill in the blanks of present obstruction. Of course, any explanation doesn’t correlate with justification, so please keep that in mind and form your own opinions, dear reader.

Still, this isn’t a hit piece on any administration figure – I make no claims against the personal character of our studious managers. With that obligatory disclaimer out of the way:

Taft’s bathroom policy comes from an optics problem, not an extant necessity. That issue would be youth indiscretions, shall we put it: fights, vaping, and whatever misdemeanors emanate throughout Taft’s reputation. It’s an open secret even outside our school, and where do most of the videos tarnishing Taft come from? If you guessed the bathrooms, congratulations! You’re a smart one.

If school admins are sensitive to anything, it’s public opinion, and nothing gets parents riled up like the uppity youth misbehaving. Certain people in charge of our school have undoubtedly had to deal with parental calls and all the self-righteous rage that entails. Security needed to tidy up their reputation because their jobs are hard enough without a PR aspect. 

2023 only made their jobs harder with the gun scandals and walkouts. With every outlet from Block Club to CBS suddenly covering what Taft’s students dared think, the administration had to go shopping for something to shut down so they could claim to tackle delinquency. 

For relatively little cost, closing the restrooms could shutter everything from fight clips to vaping – or at least admin heads thought.

In truth, these beliefs bought into the hype of optics, which policy never should. Shutting down washrooms just moved the unsavory things people did there elsewhere. Taft’s security encountered the Cobra Effect: their genius aesthetic bandaid caused initial issues to spiral. Hoodlums, underestimated in their buffoonery, grew sly with their vaping. 

Security guards were predictably caught flat-footed. Far from being ready for the policy shift, faculty can remember the initial confusion that characterized the new bathroom policy. One security guard, Selina Flores, laid out her memories succinctly. 

“It was chaotic when administration started closing the bathrooms. We had to manage more kids in less space. Security got used to it eventually, but the policy was a pain.”

So who’s paying the price? Everyone else. In a school of roughly 4,000 children, how many bathrooms are open at any given time?

Four.

No, Taft isn’t following other school’s leads. According to the Lane Tech Champion, their high school has 13 bathrooms for each gender . Even pre-2019, when there was a sexual disparity, girls still had seven washrooms. Nobody should seriously argue that Taft has less logistical capability than Chicago’s biggest high school.

So when you, oh reader, see a vape case in your cafeteria bin, remember: across buildings holding innumerable kids for seven hours, each gender only has two toilets, because of measly vaping

Maybe it’s time to open the staff bathrooms, huh? 

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About the Contributor
George Zemenides, Reporter