Students returned to their natural habits after coming back to school on August 2nd. Habits such as vandalism and littering. Vandalism and littering have always happened on our campus, but it was especially bad when the TikTok trend “Devious Licks” became popular and students were inspired to steal items from school and post it online for likes.
“It doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to me, however, I do know the destruction to property has been pretty daunting,” said Mr. Hinkleman.
During quarantine in 2019-2020, Mr. Hinkleman described San Bernardino High to be clean and beautiful because there were no students there to dirty it, but there were custodians there to clean.
The vandalism that occurs at SBHS can be pretty bad. For example, some people write curse words on walls, signs, doors, floors, the paintings in the T Wing have been tampered with, mirrors carved into, and so on. Before Homecoming in mid-October, the restrooms near the T Wing were shut down due to a fire occurring. Though students weren’t told what damage the fire had caused in the bathroom, one of the toilets was damaged and closed off during the homecoming dance.
There have been various times that students have seen spray paint on the walls, or even teachers seeing important pieces of our school picked at and messed with. According to research, restroom soap dispensers were a major target.
“I have seen kids damage the property before, that I have seen, unfortunately,” said Hinkleman. “Especially here in the B building, and not just this year. I’ve seen it over the years. The one thing that’s become challenging the last couple years is…there’s been a lot of theft, not movable property, things on the campus that have been here for a long time. For instance, out in the front of the school there was a plaque for John F Kennedy and there was also a memorial for the students who fought and died in WW2, I believe. I think it was right before the pandemic that those were stolen. We came back to school and they were gone.”
“As you know, the TikTok challenges had a huge impact on our campus, destroying restrooms, burning toilet paper; not only destructive but costly to our budget. Not to mention harmful. Then you had food fights, graffiti, stealing and setting off fire extinguishers. These things slow us down in our workload as well and inhibit us from giving you students our best work,” said lead custodian, Jenny Pederson.
“The TUV restrooms, along with the L restrooms, have been closed several times this year due to vandalism and how fast they could be repaired. Parts often had to be ordered. We can’t open the restrooms when every toilet is clogged, the toilet paper holders are pulled off the walls, fires are set, toilet seats are broken, the fire alarms are pulled off the walls and wires are exposed, soap dispensers are pulled off the walls and soap spread all over the floors or sinks pulled off the walls,” Karen Vega stated.
“People shouldn’t do it, every action has a consequence,” said Draven Fernandes (9).
Obviously people get paid for their labor. That includes the cost of paint, paint rollers, cement, and so on. When things are damaged, it has to be fixed and not only does it cost money, but it takes money away from other upgrades that may get done on campus.
“All repairs are done through the district maintenance and operations department. The district sets up a budget for that department and they have to pay for salaries and also the cost of any repairs. Those costs will vary depending on what the item is, how long it takes to repair and how much it costs for replacement,” said Vega. “If there is so much vandalism that maintenance and operations run out of money for repairs, it would come out of the district funds which ultimately will mean less funding for the schools. If the person is caught, they will be charged and have to pay restitution. Some repairs can be completed quickly but some take a while because parts need to be
ordered. They don’t have enough staff to get to every school that has repairs, or a school has something that needs priority because of a safety issue.”
But what can be done to end the destruction and filth?
“I think presence is a big deal, and this requires a united front from everyone – anyone who could be involved and from the students too. I have seen times when students band together and clean the school and it’s a tidy, well-kept place. I think it’s going to take a lot of resolve and a lot of effort from a lot of different people because I do think most people around here want to do the right thing, including students. We need to just make it a priority,” said Hinkleman.