High school recovers from vandalism in bathrooms

Acts of vandalism in the school bathrooms occurred from Tuesday, Sept. 14 through Monday, Sept. 20.

The defacing acts in the bathroom are known as “Devious Licks” which, according to Kristen Mei Chase from The Washington Post, are part of a trend on the social media platform TikTok where students steal objects from the school and damage restrooms.

Principal Kristin Robbins said mirrors, soap dispensers, urinal cakes and signs were taken and toilets were also clogged. These acts happened in the Lion Lobby, third floor and second floor arts wing male restrooms, she said. Robbins added that the school did not determine a monetary amount for the damages.

Assistant Principal Craig McMillen said the last known act of vandalism occurred Monday, Sept. 20, when a soap dispenser was taken from a women’s restroom.

A group of fewer than 10 students were responsible for the acts, Robbins noted. She added that most of the students regret their actions and learned from them.

McMillen explained that he was informed of the first instance of damage Tuesday, Sept. 14 by the custodial staff. He added that the custodial staff continued to find messes, especially from the soap dispensers, which left the floors sticky.

Following the first known day of the incidents, Robbins and McMillen informed the staff in a meeting, McMillen said.

“The staff was aghast,” Mcmillen said. “When they started to hear the severity of it, they were taken aback. Even behind their masks you could see their jaws drop, and they leaned forward in their chairs and said ‘What? This is happening?’”

Latin teacher Jackie Lund said she was disappointed about the damage to the restrooms. However, she felt more anxiety over items potentially being stolen from her classroom, which was another element of the trend, she explained.

“My initial reactions to this trend were concern and worry for my classroom. I have a lot of personal belongings and books that I would be upset to lose,” Lund said. “I learned about the trend through another teacher whose students had started trying to take her things during their class without her noticing.”

Robbins explained that she was also shocked by these acts. She added that this was the first time the high school has experienced true vandalism and damage, and the timing of the incidents was unfortunate.

“We are coming off of a hard year last year, and we’re still dealing with Covid,” Robbins said. “This is just one more thing, and kind of a senseless one.”

High school custodian Ally Penner recalled being upset when she found out about the vandalism.

“Our job is to clean up after the students, so that’s what we did,” she said. “It put us almost an hour behind, though.”

Penner described the process of reporting broken or missing items as a tedious one and said the damage took the custodial staff a long time to register. She added that she was surprised and confused that these acts of vandalism were popping up online as a trend.

“My sister was subbing downstairs, and we noticed that there was a soap dispenser missing off the wall,” she said. “We didn’t know it was going to be the start of a viral trend.”

Freshman Griffin Heideman explained that he sees many odd trends on Tik Tok, but none of them have caused damage or uproar like this one. He added that his feelings towards the trend changed quickly over time.

“It was a little bit funny at first, but it quickly got very annoying,” Heideman said. “It’s harder to go to the restroom during school because teachers don’t trust students.”

McMillen said the students involved learned important lessons from the situation, but it was unfortunate that it took these incidents for a teachable moment.

“At the end of the day, when people walk into the building, they are making a choice every single day whether they’re going to add to the positive culture of Bexley High School or they’re going to take away from it,” he explained. “These acts certainly took away from it, but the good news is that starting the day after, they have a chance to come in and add to the positive culture moving forward.”

Robbins said she is hopeful that the high school will move forward from these acts together.

“Hopefully this is just a blip on the radar, and we realize that it was really stupid,” Robbins said. “Now, how do we move in the right direction and support each other in making better decisions? We are going to be better as a whole because of it.”