CRLS’s New Bathroom Policy Disregards Bodily Autonomy

Zareen Brown, Contributing Writer

Cambridge Rindge and Latin is an institution that prides itself on the respect, care, and consideration of its students. The administration gives statements about how much it values students’ mental health, autonomy, and freedom at school. However, over the past several weeks, this very same administration has implemented a policy in which students are able to spend a maximum of ten minutes getting water, using the bathroom, or going to the library. New passes are color coded and restrict students from going to the bathroom on a different floor, despite the fact that gender neutral restrooms are not located on every floor. The increased surveillance of students seems to directly contradict the values that the CRLS administration touts to the rest of the Cambridge Public School district. 

Given the new 85-minute class periods and lack of daily Community Meetings, students and teachers alike have expressed concerns over the surveillance of students on their breaks from class. It seems odd to track the bathroom breaks of students in high school, especially when it is expected that students at this level of education act “mature.” Speaking with the Register Forum, Lucy Emerson ’22 echoes this idea, “It feels invasive to monitor my bathroom breaks, especially as a woman when I would rather not have to share why I was in the bathroom for over ten minutes.” There seems to be a lack of bodily autonomy that is promoted by this new policy. Especially for individuals who menstruate, this ten minute bathroom break feels invasive and insufficient to handle their bodily functions. Not only do students need to worry about how long they’ve been away from class, but teachers are forced to monitor their student’s bathroom breaks on top of teaching.

Giving students stricter rules about their bathroom breaks does nothing for the issues that they are actually dealing with.”

There is also something to be said about the irony of limiting the amount of time students are able to spend in the library during school hours. Hundreds of students use the CRLS library to study, find information for class, or just find books for their own free time. The administration blocking this ability completely discourages free learning that students do every day. “I used to go to the library everyday to stay focused on my work for school, it feels really weird that the administration is not okay with that,” says Dutch Robinson ’22. This seems to be the way that most students are feeling about the new rules regarding the library. Most students rely on the library to get their work done, due to jobs outside of school, supporting their families, and other extracurricular activities. Limiting access to this critical resource is only disrupting and hindering student’s learning. 

With all the issues that have occurred in the last few months at CRLS, is tracking students bathroom breaks really the top priority for this administration? They should redirect their focus to the sexual assault that students have experienced at the hands of fellow students and the increased mental health problems that are hurting their students. Giving students stricter rules about their bathroom breaks does nothing for the issues that they are actually dealing with. The administration must focus on the issues that are plaguing this school, rather than the small actions that they believe will discipline students. Lack of discipline is not the problem, mental health is the problem, years spent in isolation is the problem. If they would like to address that, then they may be able to take the steps needed to be administrators who truly serve their students.