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Should we turn off the lights in the RB bathrooms?

Megan Welch, Features Manager

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There are many awkward decisions and situations you have to face when you find yourself in a public bathroom: which stall to use, what’s clean and what’s not, whether or not to touch the faucet, if you should risk using the super-loud hand dryers, and the terrifying instant flush.

But what about those new signs that have appeared all over the girls’ bathroom (and the guys’, according to an independent source) right next to the light switches?
We have been forced, as of late, to deal with a whole new level of awkward when in our school bathrooms here at RB: Should we turn off the lights when we leave the bathroom, or should we leave them on?

The new signs posted in the bathrooms at RB politely ask, “Please turn off lights when not in use.” They’re asking us to turn off the lights when leaving a public bathroom just as we might in our own home bathroom.
The question remains: should we, indeed, turn off the lights?

I can see that this is probably some sort of effort to reduce the amount of energy and electricity that the school uses. But is participating in that effort required from me? I don’t think so.

You see, there are plenty of reasons why I should not reach for that light switch when I leave the public RB bathrooms. The first is most forward in my mind because it strikes me as the most awkward possible situation: what if I turn off the light, and, unbeknownst to me, someone else is still in the bathroom?? I can just imagine the angry cry of that person, yelling “Turn the lights back on!” making me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Or worse, what if no one heard their yell (remember, we’re turning off the lights as we leave the bathroom) and they’re literally stuck in the dark? On the usual mid-class bathroom trip, I don’t have enough time to thoroughly check the bathroom to see if it’s empty. I would rather just not turn the lights off at all.

Although the light switch signs seem to be some sort of energy-saving effort, I’m not sure that’s really my job, mostly because I haven’t been told. The sign leaves no clues as to what its hidden purpose is, or who it is meant for. Is the sign there for the benefit of the student, the teacher, the janitor, or any community members? If it is for students, shouldn’t there be some sort of announcement? If the school administration wants us to participate, they should certainly make one.

So students, for the sake of not being awkward, we must not turn off the light switches. We must demand to be told how we are supposed to save the environment. And we must find out, exactly, who those signs are really supposed to be for.

1 Comment

One Response to “Should we turn off the lights in the RB bathrooms?”

  1. Katie on August 17th, 2010 12:27 am

    I think that students should definitly turn off the lights when they leave the bathroom. It is something we should do anyway, whether or not there is a sign posted. Turning the lights off is a small act of environmentalism that anyone can do, because it only takes a second. Also, it doesn’t take but a quick glance to make sure no one else is still in the bathroom.

    I do agree with one point, though, and that is the fact that there was no public announcement encouraging the RB student body, or anyone else for that matter, to participate. But, even though there was no notification and only a simple sign was posted in each bathroom, that doesn’t mean we should wait for other people to tell us what should be done to help the environment. If everyone did that, then nothing would ever be done. Each and every one of us needs to take our own initiative to make small steps that work toward a healthier planet.

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Should we turn off the lights in the RB bathrooms?