Flush the toilet: It's really not that hard

The water was overflowing. There was graffiti on the walls and doors. Trash was spread across the stained floor as an appalling stench overtook the entire room. This is not an abandoned home, nor is it the scene of a horror movie. This is the setting of a bathroom at Santa Monica College. It feels like every year, as society becomes less involved with the well being of our own environment, public restrooms become more difficult to tolerate.

As a student, I’ve had some less then pleasant experiences going into the school’s restrooms. I once went into a restroom and felt like my feet were stuck to the ground. It was extremely sticky and the stench was awful. The kick here was that it was over by the sink, which makes me question the vile acts that are going on in these bathrooms.

“I think the bathrooms are very dirty and unsanitary,” said SMC student Cooper Ricardo, who said that he once walked into a bathroom where every single toilet was overflowing.

“I’m not going to do this; this isn’t happening,” Ricardo said to himself when deciding whether or not to use the restroom.

It is difficult to believe that the act of flushing a toilet is so daunting that a human being is incapable of doing it. As a society, we seem to be becoming so lazy that we have reached a point where flushing a toilet, or throwing a paper towel in the proper trash can is deemed too difficult of a task to spend a few seconds on.

Although the SMC restrooms are not the cleanest, some are far worse than others. The restrooms in the Math Complex and the Science Building have been praised for being cleaner than others. However, the restrooms in the Business Building, Letters and Science Building, and cafeteria do not have the same fortune.

“It’s dirty; like really dirty,” said SMC student Scarlett Munoz of the restroom in the Business Building. “There was no soap, no paper towels at all, and the trash cans were all filled with trash.”

The facilities department is not at fault for the unkempt bathrooms. Some students and users of these restrooms simply take no action whatsoever to keep these rooms in shape.

The custodial operations department is divided between one day shift, from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and two night shifts, from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

The latter is split up into three different parts, according to information received in an email from JC Saunders-Keurjian, chief director of the facilities department.

The day shift and the first night shift are each made up of at least five employees with one lead custodian, Saunders-Keurjian said. However, they are currently without a lead custodian for one of the night shifts.

The final night shift is an overall joint effort of approximately 45 employees, including three lead custodians. However, there are still 13 vacant positions within the custodial operations.

Campus maintenance is carried out over nine different areas that include SMC’s Bundy campus, Performing Arts Center, and the soon-to-return Academy of Entertainment and Technology campus, Saunders-Keurjian said.

She also noted that due to uncontrollable circumstances, such as vacation time, sicknesses or work injuries, they are rarely fully staffed.

That means that, day in and day out, SMC’s custodial staff has to work twice as hard to keep up with an immense load, while being undersized in their staff.

Instead of rambling until they are blue in the face about how maintenance does not do their jobs, SMC students and other people alike should worry about how they are too apathetic about their own hygiene to simply flush a toilet or put that marker back in their pockets.

The custodial department members do their job, and cannot help if someone is eager to turn the bathrooms into a sewage dump as soon as they are cleaned.

The college is doing all it can with the resources it has at the moment, but it is still not enough. SMC needs to make hiring more custodians a priority.

SMC students Stacy Campos and Rebecca Sepulveda both agreed that maintaining the bathrooms is not a hard task as long as the basic procedures of toilet flushing and throwing trash away are done.

Saunders-Keurjian said she hopes that students will help by respecting their SMC environment, refraining from vandalism, abiding by certain rules such as “no food or drink” where posted, and encouraging others to do the same.

She urges students to inform any faculty or staff member of any concerns that include safety issues, or areas that are in need of custodial support, so that they can be fixed and not left to linger for a long period of time.

Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen using the restrooms at SMC, the custodial staff will never get a rest, and the students will just keep making a mess.