Picture this. You’re in math class, and you cannot focus on your calculus equations because you, as a human being with a bladder and basic needs, have to use the bathroom. You nervously raise your hand, wait what feels like 3 decades for the teacher to call on you and inquire whether you can slip out of for a minute to relieve yourself. Not to your surprise, your teacher turns you down because “you should have gone in between classes.” Sound a little too familiar? Being denied a trip to the bathroom is an annoyance almost every student has experienced. Although there are certain occasions where it is understandable to make a student stay in class, such as if the class is taking an exam, it can also feel seriously frustrating to be prohibited from doing a basic human function.
Teachers often justify their negative response to students inquiring about the bathroom by claiming students can and should just go between their classes. Unfortunately, when students only have six minutes to get from one class to another, it is an incredibly difficult feat to use the bathroom and make it to class on time. In some cases, using the bathroom between classes and being on time is mutually exclusive, and telling a student they can’t excuse themselves because they had time between classes is close-minded.
BCC’s new bathroom policy of having one pass for a class average of 25 students mixed with the teacher’s individual rules about the bathroom create a confusing and irritating policy. 99% of the time, students just want to use the bathroom. What are students supposed to do when there is only one pass and one fellow classmate has decided to walk through BCC like it’s the Champs Elysees instead of returning to class? It is inevitable that there will be some students who abuse the right to go to the bathroom, but this shouldn’t prevent every student from using the restroom. An eighteen-year-old student who has the right to vote and legally sign themselves out of school should not be blocked from going to the bathroom by another adult.
In addition, teachers frequently put restrictions on the number of people who can use the bathroom in a period. Students don’t have a communal bladder: just because someone else is using the bathroom does not in any way change or reduce students need to use the bathroom. It’s understandable that it becomes a nuisance for the teachers to have a revolving door of students going to the bathroom. But if a student stays in class instead of going to the bathroom, it will be harder to focus on a given task, which seems like a lose-lose situation for both the student and the teacher. It can also be a health hazard; not using the restroom when you need to can have harmful effects like UTIs or damage to pelvic floor muscles.
Going to the bathroom is a necessity. Out of respect for a student and their basic needs, teachers should allow students to use the bathroom unless it would be undeniably detrimental for the student or the class.