HomeCampusTrash and vandalism increase on campus at unprecedented rate

Trash and vandalism increase on campus at unprecedented rate

Published Nov. 12, 2021

BY RILEY PALSHAW

Following a year where the farthest students had to go to find a trash can was under their kitchen sink or the corner of their bedroom, CHS administrators and custodial staff have observed a consistent disregard for campus and school property by students.

“We’ve never experienced this before,” says Lisa Brazil, the principal’s secretary at CHS. “In past years, every now and then somebody would write something on the bathroom wall or draw something on the lawn in salt. Every couple of years we’d have one or two incidents, but this year it’s just been consistent since school started.”

Between the campus amphitheater and student restrooms, some students have overlooked the state of their campus for the past couple of months, regularly leaving trash around the school and, with increased frequency, going as far as to vandalize school property in the bathrooms.

In light of the “devious licks” trend, there have been increasing incidences of vandalism in campus restrooms, with students ripping soap dispensers and hand dryers or, in this case, a urinal off the wall. (Photo by LOKEN WALLIS)

These incidents of vandalism are partially inspired by a national trend, first brought to teens’ attention on the social media platform TikTok. Referred to as “devious licks,” the viral social media challenge promotes the destruction of school property for entertainment, such as students removing soap dispensers from walls, pulling off pieces of hand dryers and towel dispensers and, in some cases, even attempting to dismantle fire alarms. 

Like teenagers across the country, some CHS students have been breaking dispensers in the high school’s restrooms and either leaving them broken on the floor or keeping them. After finding evidence of fire alarms being meddled with after the fire alarm sounded again Oct. 8, CHS administrators even suspect that one or more students have been attempting to pull off the strobes of fire alarm devices, setting off the censors and triggering the fire alarm multiple times since August. 

A number of CHS students have also graffitied the bathroom walls in permanent marker, some writing simple hellos to their classmates, others scratching highly offensive statements on the walls. On several occasions, bathroom stalls have had to be repainted in order to conceal messages written beneath.

While most students head straight to their sixth period class, a select few stay behind to pick up the food and trash that litters the amphitheater. (Photo by RILEY PALSHAW)

“In years prior to the pandemic, there was graffiti once a month, and we’d clean it up and it’d be no big deal,” CHS custodian Tyler Thompson explains. “But this year it’s happening every week, if not more than once a week.”

Since the start of this year, Thompson has been forced to pivot his custodial responsibilities in response to the increased amount of trashing and vandalism occurring. Instead of hosing out the bathrooms once a month, Thompson now has to bring out the hose once a week due to the immense amount of food that’s been smeared on the walls and floors, which takes away time that could be better spent tidying up classrooms.

“The boys’ bathrooms are always filled with trash, smell, and are just nasty overall, so I avoid them entirely,” senior Joe Barnett says. 

Assistant principal Craig Tuana notes that the throwing of food seems to be worse than in past years as well. This may partially be due to the school’s decision to offer free lunches for all students, which, while great for students who don’t have a lunch, has accumulated a lot of waste as teens leave unwanted pieces of their lunch around campus.

Students seem to be leaving the remnants of their free lunches everywhere but inside the trash can, contributing to the increase of trash that’s accumulated on campus. (Photo by RILEY PALSHAW)

The CHS Environmental Club has taken initiative to address the trash dilemma. 

“We’re collaborating with Waste Management and plan on doing a waste audit in early November to determine how much waste the school creates,” club co-president Giana Buraglio says, “especially with the additional factor of free lunches.”

The senior’s hope is to turn the tide and make students more conscientious about trash. 

Although administrators can’t be entirely sure what has caused this recent uptick in behavioral issues, Brazil and assistant principal Tuana believe immaturity is the cause of students trashing and vandalizing campus more than usual, and they urge students to report any breaking or school property or inappropriate remarks written around campus and in the bathrooms. 

As Tuana emphasizes, “Care for your campus, care about what’s going on.”

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