Property Damage & Littering: Accountability


To most students, attending the Latin School of Chicago is a privilege. As of late, however, students have shown a lack of respect for Latin’s facilities team.

The school year started a mere three months ago, yet the tissue holder in the boys bathroom on the third floor and the lock in the boys bathroom on the fourth floor are both broken. The wall in the fourth floor locker bay has been covered with writing. Students have left trash everywhere, particularly in the Learning Commons, collaboration rooms, and the pit. The damaged property and littering results in extra work for the facilities team and shows a lack of respect for others who use the shared space.

While the facilities team does have an obligation to keep the school clean, given the extent to which students have damaged community spaces, many students believe that it is too much for them. “Although I acknowledge that it’s the facilities team’s job to keep the building sanitized for us, it’s our job to do the bare minimum of taking care of ourselves,” junior Madison Vanderbilt said.

With Latin being a well-renowned independent school, many students also say that the lack of respect for facilities can be attributed to the privilege that most students have. “Privilege definitely has a big part in the lack of respect for facilities,” freshman Melissa Butler said. “Littering here and there is fine, but constantly doing it in an institution that many people share is disrespectful to everyone who will share that space after you.”

Some students believe that students’ lack of respect for facilities stems from the fact that a significant number of students might see the facilities team as help and not as real people, and this dehumanization is something that might call for attention. “Some students do take advantage of the facilities team and don’t really treat them as if they have feelings, seeming to think that they’re just there for help,” freshman Yerin Lee said.

Madison echoed Yerin’s thoughts, saying, “I truly believe that students in some ways do dehumanize facilities. Although it’s not required that you should have full-fledged relationships with facilities, it is imperative that you should establish a community of respect.” She added, “Although facility members are on the clock, it’s dehumanizing in the way that students don’t consider the lives of facilities matter. It’s as if they don’t exist outside of Latin.”

Katie Jones Espinales, a member of the Upper School English faculty, said that “the lack of respect for facilities makes me feel like students are thinking of their own needs and desires above the needs of the community and behaving in ways that are not particularly conscious of other people who use the building.” But she also said she thinks that “the students aren’t being intentionally malicious, just not thinking about their behavior.”

With prospective students touring the school, the way in which Latin students present themselves is even more crucial than ever; they are representing our school as a whole. Madison said, “Whenever you examine the locker bays, the quiet areas, both places that eating isn’t allowed, and most of all the Learning Commons, you can see the blatant disrespect and students’ immaturity encompassing the building. This harms our integrity as students of Latin, but most of all hurts facilities, facilities that have to pick up the slack of our carelessness.”

On November 1, Upper School Deans Bridget Hennessy and Joe Edwards talked to the students in their respective divisions about the ongoing issue in hopes of encouraging students to be more considerate of the facilities team. In addition to speaking to the students, the Upper School administrative team has also been actively working to alleviate littering issues by posting signs and being present during lunch periods. But Ms. Hennessy noted, “I am not aware of any action taken regarding the property damage.”

The Upper School administration’s efforts appear to have proven ineffective thus far. “We had not noticed a change in behavior since speaking to students in all four grades,” Ms. Hennessy said. Littering continues to pose a problem throughout the school, with food and even entire lunch trays often left on the floor.

Christy Huerta, a member of the food service staff who is often stationed in the fourth floor cafe, said, “Usually when kids leave, they leave somewhat of a mess. It’s a bit annoying, but it’s okay because the janitors will come and clean it up.” Still, Ms. Huerta thinks students have a responsibility to clean up after themselves.

Ms. Hennessy said the school remains committed to addressing this issue. “Our next step,” she said, “is to solicit help from student leaders like Student Government.”