Why, Wilson?


Graphic by Margaret Heffernan

Adin McGurk

It’s a reasonable assumption that in any given bathroom, there’ll be a trash can. People just have to throw things away sometimes. So why, Wilson, aren’t your bathrooms like any other when it comes to waste bins?

It turns out that the absence of trash cans in the bathrooms is a matter of necessity: before Wilson’s renovation in 2011 and the addition of electric hand dryers, the paper towels and trash cans were used as instruments of arson. “The designers [of the Wilson renovation] decided not to put in trash cans because they were putting in hand blowers, and because we had problems before with people lighting trash cans on fire,” explained Assistant Principal Gregory Bargeman.

Students in the old building used to light the contents of the trash cans on fire fairly regularly, and leave the bathrooms in a state of disarray that Bargeman compared to a modern-day Wilson bathroom prank: the frequent flooding of the bathrooms resulting from toilets stuffed by students with bathroom trash. “Just little pranks that students do,” Bargeman said.

Before the renovation, the building didn’t have the sprinkler system that it does today. After the fire was found and extinguished, the school day would continue like normal.“There’d just be a smell of smoke somewhere in the building,” Bargeman said.

The fire-in-the-trash-can prank wouldn’t be quite as insignificant if it were to happen today, though. With the current fire safety system, dealing with this kind of prank is much more of an ordeal. According to Principal Kimberly Martin, if there were a fire in a school bathroom, “the alarm to evacuate would go off, the sprinklers would go off in the area of the fire, the Fire Department would automatically be dispatched, and they would do a sweep of the school.” During the sweep, students would wait wherever their class’s designated area was, and would most likely return to school for the rest of the day.

So why doesn’t the administration want students to have places to throw things away in the bathrooms? For the first time in the history of ‘Why, Wilson?’, the answer to our question actually seems logical.