Opinion: Bathroom passes shouldn’t cost a grade


Nisha Marino

Many teachers require students to use extra credit points to go to the bathroom.

Nisha Marino, Highlander Editor-in-Chief

So, you need to pee. How much are you willing to pay?

Apparently, “ten points for extra credit” is the best price around.

In the past two years, a fair amount of my teachers have said students can leave whenever they need to use the restroom as long as they’re respectful and don’t abuse the privilege. In my experience, this system works very well.

Other teachers, however, believe in awarding points for staying in class. Two of the teachers I have this year gave each student three passes for the semester. Thus, we have a choice: do we use these passes when we need to pee, or do we hold onto them until finals week for 30 extra points?

The rest of our lives will be about taking responsibility for ourselves. Bathroom passes take away some of that responsibility and replace it with anxiety, dehydration, and the potential for long-term damage.

Some students avoid drinking water all day so they won’t need to use the restroom until they get home. Bathroom passes encourage this dehydration, and there is no encouragement in the opposite direction – towards a healthy, hydrated lifestyle.

Other students hold in their pee until they have enough time to go to the bathroom. Seven-minute passing periods rarely have enough time for a restroom run; lines form out the door within a minute of dismissal, and some students need all the given time just to walk to their next class.

Waiting until lunch or after school can be difficult, especially if there’s an activity like a club, sport, or a make-up test that needs to happen at that time. I personally wait until I have a class with no penalty for leaving, but some students might have schedules that don’t accommodate that.

The new block schedule, with an 80-minute class period, also makes this bathroom scheduling difficult.

The matter of menstruation also comes to mind. Female students should not have to “pay” to go to the bathroom on their period. Some teachers will waive the pass fee in this case, but a female student also shouldn’t be required to disclose their situation to teachers. Female students should be allowed the privacy to use the restroom without losing points.

There is a rationale behind these manipulative pieces of paper. Some students will use any excuse to leave the classroom, and teachers don’t want them to miss important instructional time. Students can take the hall pass and essentially cut class.

However, I think there are other methods of controlling these students without penalizing people who actually need to respond to a biological need. Leaving class to vape seems to be a popular pastime, but posting pictures of smokers’ lungs in the bathroom would be a much stronger deterrent.

I understand the intention behind bathroom passes. Teachers truly want their students to get the most out of their 50-minute instructional period, and they use strong incentives – the grades we all care so much about – to do that. But taking into consideration the effect bathroom passes can have on a student’s health, I have to ask: should peeing really be worth 30 points?