Restroom review encourages ‘holding it’

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Litter in the women’s room 12:44 p.m. Feb. 16  in Room 252 of Loftin  Photo by Pam Paz

Litter in the women’s room 12:44 p.m. Feb. 16 in Room 252 of Loftin Photo by Pam Paz

A urinal in the men’s room 1:06 p.m. Feb. 13 in the cafeteria of Loftin  Photo by Pam Paz

A urinal in the men’s room 1:06 p.m. Feb. 13 in the cafeteria of Loftin Photo by Pam Paz

Students say college restrooms could use a little attention.

By Matthew Reyna

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

A two-week review of the restrooms at this college showed that not all restrooms are cleaned equally.

The sight and smell of stale urine is prevalent in most men’s and women’s restrooms, according to this reporter’s observations, conducted in January and February with the help of a female photographer.

Recently renovated, the women’s room 1:25 p.m. Feb. 16 in Room 312 of Fletcher is spotless.  Photo by Pam Paz

Recently renovated, the women’s room 1:25 p.m. Feb. 16 in Room 312 of Fletcher is spotless. Photo by Pam Paz

Hands-intensive sinks that require students to hold down a push button while washing their hands are the norm, not the exception. Graffiti covers a lot of the restroom walls and mirrors, and is especially pervasive in Gonzales Hall.

“Most of the time, they are dirty and are hardly ever stocked with paper towels,” psychology freshman Aurelio Alcoser said.

In a Feb. 17 interview, Dr. Robert Vela, president of the college, said, “Keeping restrooms clean is everybody’s responsibility. If you see something, report it.”

Except for an unflushed toilet, a unisex restroom 1:03 p.m. Feb. 16 in Room 404 of Moody is clean.  Photo by Pam Paz

Except for an unflushed toilet, a unisex restroom 1:03 p.m. Feb. 16 in Room 404 of Moody is clean. Photo by Pam Paz

He also prompted students to email David Mrizek, vice president of college services, if they notice something wrong. “We encourage all people to contact Mr. Mrizek if they have issues with the restrooms on campus,” Vela said.

Mrizek said the cleaning in most buildings is by contractors. The school retains a handful of its own housekeeping employees.

Custodial sign-in sheets checked in late January showed restrooms in Chance Academic Center, the Student Success Center and Gonzales Hall had not been cleaned in months. Or the sign-in sheets had not been updated in months. A February follow-up check on the sign-in sheets showed they have largely been removed from their plastic holders.

12:48 p.m. Feb. 13 on the first floor of Longwith  Photo by Pam Paz

12:48 p.m. Feb. 13 on the first floor of Longwith Photo by Pam Paz

The only active sheet that had been updated in 2015 was in the men’s restroom on the second floor of McCreless Hall.

The cleanliness and modern amenities of restrooms in newer buildings, such as the nursing complex and Oppenheimer Academic Center is contrasted by filth, outdated equipment, or a combination of the two in Moody Learning Center, the second floor of Longwith Radio, Television and Broadcasting, and the bottom two floors of Fletcher Administration Center. These three buildings stand out as the dirtiest restrooms on campus.

The nursing complex restrooms rank as the best places to take care of business on campus for men or women. Automated lighting lets students know if the restrooms are currently vacant or occupied. There are three restrooms on every floor of the building, which minimizes traffic.

The men’s and women’s restrooms on both floors of McAllister Fine Arts Center provide a hands-off restroom experience. Open windows and wide walkways keep the restrooms smelling fresh. Automatic doors allow a student to walk in and out of the restroom without having to touch anything.

On the other hand, Moody restrooms, which handle droves of students daily, get a very low score by the same criteria. This goes for the men’s and women’s restrooms.

Conversely, restrooms on the first two floors of Fletcher and on the second floor of Longwith have less student traffic, but are still just as bad, if not worse.

The main men’s restroom on Longwith’s second floor fails occupants of that building — including this reporter, who works as a DJ at KSYM — in many ways. Since summer 2013, the restroom had maintained a urine smell stronger than anything from Moody. The culprit was a layer of coated urine on the urinals that seems to have been building for months. Upon a return visit in February, the restroom seemed to have been deodorized. The smell was largely gone, but paper towels still littered the floor, and the dried urine had not been removed from the urinals. And now there were little pieces of hair stuck to the dried urine.

Fletcher Administration Center is the first campus experience for many prospective students. What they will see upon visiting the first-floor restroom, which serves the financial aid and testing center, is severely aged equipment mixed with a filthy exterior.

The toilet bowl-style urinals are caked with layers of urine. The flush handles are wet from water, urine or another liquid. A “Wet Floor” sign, which seems to be permanently stationed in the restroom, blocks a trashcan covered in a thick, dripping gunk. The sign remains dutifully in place days later.

On the second floor of Fletcher, which includes the admissions and business offices and is the most student-intensive area in the building, the two restrooms are unisex and only fit one student at a time. On the third floor, an administrative floor with little student traffic, the restrooms were closed for construction for most of the two-week review.

When the restrooms re-opened in the beginning of February, they were the most modern in the building. The new restroom now has a wide entrance and, thanks to surplus material from Moody, a hands-free dryer and new tile.

“There are plans to renovate the other restrooms in Fletcher,” Vela said. “It’s going to have to be one step, one facility at a time.”

Vela said he uses restrooms all over the campus. He indicated that there is obvious usage in some of the high-traffic areas, but said, “There hasn’t been [anything]that shocked me. Nothing that made me say wow!”

To file a work request, go to the SAC Facilities homepage.

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