The Voices of the Stalls

Dulce Alvarado, Staff Writer

Each morning, Poly students are expected to uphold the four for life policies that they must follow while on school campus. One of the rules is “Be Safe.” The student policy handout states, “Students may not: Possess, use, sell, or be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco on campus or at any school-sponsored activity.” This means Poly students aren’t allowed to use drugs or vape on campus according to school policies. This year, however, has seen an increase in the number of students smoking in the school’s public bathrooms during, before, and after school hours. In the girl’s bathrooms, students, unhappy with the trend, are starting to anonymously protest against these acts. 

Female students at Poly have always been writing messages on the bathroom stalls. One peculiar message in dark black letters stands out, “STOP SMOKING,” followed by a gold message that reads, “Want a hit?” Some students may not have the courage to confront these vapors face to face but with their anonymous messages, they hope others will understand their concerns and stop vaping. 

When you go into a bathroom you expect to go in there to relieve yourself and then go back to your routine. A current 11th grade student at Poly mentioned, “I would like them [girls] to stop smoking in the bathrooms because I’m trying to use the restroom as quick as possible, again [due to my] health issues, but I don’t want to risk my health for the cause of vaping.” 

The problem with vaping or smoking in the bathrooms while others are using them is that it is a health crisis for everyone. According to “Secondhand Vaping: The Latest Vaping Health Risk” by Caroline Roberts, “A study from 2014 showed that indoor air quality was impaired when people in a ventilated room used e-cigarettes. Ultrafine particles can find their way from the vapor into the lungs of other people in the same space. Another study from 2018 found that the vapor not only contains nicotine, but also heavy metals, aldehyde and glycerin… the vapor [is also known to cause] harm [to] bystanders’ lungs and contribute to lasting damage and disease.”  Spending as little as 3 to 5 minutes in a bathroom with people vaping, means you inhale dangerous particles that can lead to cancer or other dangerous diseases. 

Dulce Alvarado
Poly’s Girls Bathroom Stall reads an anonymous message asking for others to stop vaping in the bathrooms, including an offensive remark from a vaper.

I am not saying if you are a vapor or smoker, stop using your drugs for the better of everyone else. Everyone has control over their actions, therefore, those students can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t affect others.

A freshman at Poly recalls, “ I could be walking somewhere in the school and just randomly smell weed or whatever flavor…[or] scent there is. I also know a lot of students from my middle school that vaped and still do currently, most students can quickly get hooked onto smoking/vaping from friends to look ‘cool’ and to just relax sometimes.”

Though Poly staff is trying to track down students who vape they don’t have much luck. A student says, “I think the school hasn’t done anything about the vaping because of the mass majority of students who do vape and how they are unsure of who the supplier would be they can’t crack it down.” It is not because the students are intelligent and sneaky that they don’t get caught; the reality is that they are right under their noses. Just last week I witnessed a duo of boys that looked like freshmen using the monitor of a computer in the library to recharge their e-cigarette. They weren’t hiding it.

Vaping has become a global emergency as more and more teens die every day from not just direct contact but with second hand vaping. Students ask Poly staff  to  “clean the bathrooms, have more paper towels and to crack down on the no vaping… policy in there… [,the bathrooms, though] a lot of students would most likely ignore it.” Cleaner and safer bathrooms ensure not only the student’s safety but also their future. All that is asked for the vapers in the Poly school is to empathize with others and to limit their contamination on others.

Artin Arhanian, an administrator at Poly, said that Poly staff check the bathrooms randomly throughout the day, stopping large amounts of students from entering together and vaping.  Arhanian emphasized that they were open to suggestions to improve the way they conduct their searches. Arhanian also supported the Advocates for Healthy Choices (AFHC) club, which áims to promote healthy behavior. The club meets every Wednesday from 3:15p.m. to 4:45p.m. in room 18.