Health Risks at Lincoln: Student Insights

Submitted by Lola Conopio-Mora on Thu, 01/23/2020 - 12:18 - 0 Comments
Over the years at Lincoln High School there have been asignificant number of health risks and unsanitary incidences. These incidences have negatively affected the students and their well being. Liquids dripping from the ceiling, a lack of adequate hygiene products, and disrespect from the student body are creating an unsafe, and unpleasant, environment. I have experienced a number of these health concerns, which inspired me to ask students about their own experiences and how it has affected
them. Hana Teherani-Ami is a junior at Lincoln High School. She believes, “the problem isn’t coming from the staff or janitors, it’s the students.” She also expresses the fact that, “[she has] seen girls throw their paper towels on the ground rather than in the trash a countless number of times. Girls have left bloody hygiene products on top of the disposal bin. People have left bloody tissues and paper towels on the ground as well. It’s mainly just the student’s being disrespectful and lazy.” Hana has seen this on multiple occasions, pointing out that it is unsanitary, and frankly gross. Emma Mummery is a sophomore at Lincoln High School who moved to Portland from Australia at the beginning of the school year. The health concerns at Lincoln came as a bit of a shock compared to the sanitary conditions at her last school. She states that, “coming from Australia, I was a bit shocked and confused when I went to the bathroom and was looking for a place to put my tampon when I realized that is normal here to put your sanitary products into a paper bag which is open to the outside, where bacteria is very easily spreadable.” In Australia, Emma had close-lid bins that kept menstrual hygiene products contained. She also found it, “a bit unusual and annoying that there was lead contamination in the water” considering water is a basic necessity. Emma explains, “it should be clean and safe” , “[we] shouldn’t have to worry about the water [we’re] drinking.” Anna Miller is a junior at Lincoln High School. Her health concern experience was in the basement of the school. In the basement ceramics classroom Anna felt something drip onto her hand. She explained how “the area around where it was dripping from was all brown and gross on the ceiling”. Anna put a bucket beneath the drip, in an attempt to prevent the same thing from happening to another student. The next student I interviewed asked to remain anonymous. She brought it to my attention that, “after the fire in the sophomore bathroom last year, students were encouraged to return to class, despite the hallways upstairs still smelling smokey, like chemicals and burnt plastic.” This was an issue for students with and without breathing problems. Regardless of the fact that some students were negatively impacted, classes remained in session, with windows being opened in an attempt to clear the air. This resulted in cold rooms and an uncomfortable learning environment. Michael Ramras is a junior at Lincoln High School. He recalls that there is, “a handprint in a foreign red crust on the mirror in freshman bathroom. And the sophomore bathroom didn’t have soap for a bit.” Amid the concerns and experiences that these students have named, they all have ideas for possible solutions.
1) “Students who use these bathrooms need to change their behaviors. Kids need to grow up, really
nothing anyone can do to help that. Maybe posters that say ‘throw that in the trash!’ by the paper towel
dispenser could help. I mean if Lincoln wanted to be more environmentally friendly, hand dryers that don’t use paper would be useful. They could eliminate trash and use of paper.” - Hana Teherani-Ami
2) “For period bins: have bins where when you use period products, [use a bin that is not as exposed]
kind of like a flap. Instead of just a wide open bin. For the water: fix the lead contamination as quickly
as possible!” - Emma Mummery
3) “I think more evaluation of student needs and safety standards could have been followed. Obviously
it’s not a super common thing and it’s a difficult situation for administrators, but students could have been prioritized and understood more.” - Anonymous Student
4) “Fixing and maintaining bathrooms and water fountains.” - Michael Ramras
All in all, there is not just one person to blame for these occurrences. Both the students and administrators play a role in the cause and resolution. Students can start by just taking one more simple step to keep the bathrooms cleaner and more sanitary spaces. And the admin can start taking a closer look into these issues brought up by the students by creating safer spaces for the students and listen to their concerns. Everyone needs to play their part in creating a better environment. Take the extra step.

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