A Day Without Janitors

By Sydney Thiroux/Granada Hills Charter High School

Picture a campus of over 4,000 students at lunchtime. A line that seems to be about a mile long forms on the way to the cafeteria. Some students are buying snacks from the vending machines. Other students, like myself, bring their own lunch and snacks. Now picture what that campus looks like after lunchtime. All kinds of wrappers and half-eaten meals are strewn everywhere. I have even seen my peers throw away perfectly good salads without even opening them. Janitors definitely have their work cut out for them.

The pictures I have described above are of my school, Granada Hills Charter High School. My school is known for its rigorous academics and massive student population, but it is not as well-known for its ridiculous amounts of waste. My campus can get so dirty to the point that teachers complain about seagulls disrupting their fifth-period classes.

In the past, attempts have been made by school administrators to remedy this problem. They punished students for not keeping the campus clean by canceling nutrition for a day, even the students that were not contributing to the problem. Students were absolutely outraged. One student found a way to alter Mr. Bauer’s profile on the school website, calling him all kinds of names. More recently, trash cans have been placed by every lunch table, so you are bound to find a trash can everywhere you go on campus. Students have the option to pick up trash as a way to clear detention. Clubs are required to dedicate one meeting per month to cleaning up a designated section of campus, or they risk receiving strikes (three strikes, you’re out!). We have an amazing janitorial staff that works tirelessly to keep our campus clean.

Even though there is an abundance of trash cans, students can sometimes forget to throw away their trash because they have to rush to their next class. By the time students come to clear their detentions by picking up trash, the janitors have already done most of the work, so the campus is basically clean. As the president of a club at Granada, I can attest to the disaster of “campus beautification.” When clubs were told at the beginning of the school year that we had to clean up a portion of campus once a month, we were never given a framework of how to implement it. In my club, it was incredibly disorganized and my members hated it. Students attend clubs to explore and diversify their interests, not to pick up after students that are too irresponsible to pick up after themselves.

As I mentioned before, the janitors at Granada are phenomenal. No matter what the campus may look like once lunch is over, they will have the campus practically spotless by the sixth period. Because of that, the students do not realize the consequences of not picking up after themselves. They think that the trash they leave behind is not a big deal. They have a sense of entitlement because they know that a janitor will be there to take care of their mess.

The underlying cause of Granada’s waste problem is that students are not taught to take ownership of the campus. They are not taught to respect the space they are given. Students do not appreciate the janitors for what they do.

A potential solution to reducing waste at Granada could be to give students a longer lunch or a longer passing period between lunch and fifth period. Either way, they will have time to not only pick up after themselves but to get their lunch from the cafeteria and get to class on time. With a longer lunch or passing period, the cafeteria staff will be less overwhelmed about feeding the student population.

Another potential solution could be to instill respect in students for janitors. We must take for granted what they do for our campus. Students should be shown how much their trash can add up. After President Trump was elected, there was “A Day Without Immigrants.” Maybe Granada needs “A Day Without Janitors” to give the student body the wake-up call it needs in order to make the campus a cleaner place.