Toilet Talk, Take Two

Hedy Gutfreund Co Editor In Chief  The Forum would like to clarify the recent petition asking to bring back manually flushing toilets. The Forum ran the petition to suggest ways that we could actually have an impact on our environment. Even more importantly, we wanted to get a conversation going on the unintended consequences of making changes that seem green but perhaps are not.  We succeeded in getting that conversation going and more.  However, we did not do due diligence.  We did not go to the facilities department to find out why they made the changes in the first place.  For that, we apologize. That said, The Forum has been in contact with  Director of Facilities and Operations Mr. Brown, and we would like to present both sides of the arguments about the toilets at Latin.   Mr. Brown informs us that the primary reason for automatically flushing toilets is for our health and safety, as touch-free valves remove the potential for contaminating each other by touching the handle. He also underscores that this is the reason for touch-free hand dryers, faucets, and soap dispensers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 160,000 people per year die from an infectious disease in the United States, and Mr. Brown points out that this is an essential reason to have touch-free toilets.   Another important advantage of automatically flushing toilets is that it prevents the problem of unflushed toilets, which Mr. Brown reports was an actual problem when we had manually flushing toilets. Obviously, unflushed toilets are disgusting and also attract insects, which we probably do not want at Latin.   In terms of the environment, Mr. Brown informs The Forum that automatically flushing toilets use the same amount of water as a manual flush valve. The amount of water flushed is based on the toilet type, and there are various volumes of toilets around the school. If someone reports that a specific toilet flushes too frequently, facilities attempts to fix the problem. So, report any problems you have with toilets in the school.   At the same time, this does not solve all the problems mentioned in the petition. The only way that the toilets will stop flushing at the wrong times (for example, during a lockdown drill or at unnecessary times that waste water) is if we report the problems. There is a solution, but it requires action from students. Perhaps facilities could create a system to more easily receive reports on chronically flushing toilets.   The Forum would like to thank the over twenty-five people who signed the petition and encourages these conversations to continue. It’s not just about the toilets; it’s about a balance between environmental concern and personal health that will be a challenge for our generation.    ]]>