Ballistic Bathroom “Ban” Baffles All

I think all T1 students will agree with me when I say that I cannot count the number of times teachers have told my class we’re “not in middle school anymore!” What do these words even mean? This remark is always followed by urges to “have more self-discipline” or to “be held accountable for your own learning.” While we T1s are fed up with hearing teachers repeat these same messages over and over again, what teachers are saying is true. In the Tutorial House, all students should be – and are held – accountable for their own learning.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I checked my email one day and saw that students had been banned from going to the bathroom or going to get a drink of water during class. As I was quickly corrected by certain teachers, “banned” isn’t exactly the right word. According to a Schoology post from Ms. Washington about the new policy, teachers will begin “curbing… breaks from their class, unless there is a clear…emergency, or…a documented medical condition which has been communicated to the school.”
If teachers are only “curbing breaks,” then why are most of my teachers outright refusing to allow my classmates to go to the bathroom? “Curbing” doesn’t mean “refusing altogether”. If the intention was to stop bathroom breaks altogether (unless there was an emergency or medical condition), shouldn’t it clearly say so? And by the words of the teachers, aren’t we in charge of our own learning? It is the choice of the student to decide whether they want to miss out on one or two minutes of class time so they can go to the bathroom.
Let me elaborate further on this policy. These “breaks” are being “curbed” because they are “…disruptive to the learning process for everyone in the class.” I have never in my entire life experienced a student single-handedly disrupting the learning of their entire class by raising their hand to ask to use the restroom. That is, until after the so-called bathroom ban was enforced. Some teachers began arguing with students about going to the bathroom. This meant that instead of one student missing out on one or two minutes of lesson time, twenty students missed out on ten minutes of lesson time. What’s the point of a policy that is meant to keep everyone concentrated in class if it wastes everyone’s time instead? Wouldn’t it be better just to revert to the old ways: one or two students per class missing a few minutes so they could come back refocused?
Technically, the school isn’t stopping us from going to the bathroom altogether. We still have time during breaks and between classes. But, because of this new rule, there are long lines in the bathrooms during breaks. Once, I waited for more than ten minutes to go to the bathroom. This is more than half of my morning break.
For some students, this is their time to eat breakfast or catch up on some homework. I don’t think we should have to choose between going to the bathroom or not eating breakfast in the morning. Since there is no official grace period for students to get from one class to the next, teachers will usually get upset if you are more than five minutes late to class. This seems reasonable, right? But, for me, it takes at least three minutes to get from one class to the next. Factor in about four minutes to line up and go to the bathroom, and I’ll have taken at least seven minutes in between classes. If UNIS wanted us to go the bathrooms in between classes, they would have to also enforce an official grace period.
As a student, this new bathroom rule is extremely confusing and unreasonable. On the one hand, we are expected to be more independent in managing our own time and be held accountable for our learning. On the other hand, the administration is now enforcing a policy that makes these decisions for us. Additionally, it is now teachers who are wasting time because of this rule, thereby taking time away from students during class. There are measures that can be added to allow students more time to go to the bathrooms, but these measures would also take away from everybody’s class time. In my opinion, it would be better for the learning experiences of all students to have no bathroom ban at all.