Clean away the hepatitis A

Illustration: Beck Shields

The sorry state of Pierce’s bathrooms has been a topic of importance to the Roundup for years. Articles written throughout the 2010’s have made appeals to the student body to be more conscientious of its conduct and expressed desires for increased janitorial diligence to address the problem. Despite this, we’re still regularly met with revolting sights and deplorable conditions whenever we answer the call of nature at Pierce.

However, in light of the deadly hepatitis outbreak in San Diego, it’s time to treat the uncleanliness of Pierce’s bathrooms as an issue that poses a serious risk to good health, rather than one of simple inconvenience.

According to the LA Times, the hepatitis A epidemic in San Diego has resulted in 315 hospitalizations and 17 deaths, and shows little sign of slowing down. KTLA reported that the disease has spread to Los Angeles, with four of the 10 known infected people having acquired hepatitis A after being exposed to the disease in San Diego.

Hepatitis A is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver, which is most often spread through ingestion of food and water that is contaminated with the feces of an individual who is infected with the disease. However, transmission also occurs as a result of poor hygiene and through exposure to sewage-contaminated water.

Poor hygiene and sewage-contaminated water. If that isn’t characteristic of Pierce’s bathrooms, then nothing is. And while the duty to correct that may be one of the primary functions of Pierce’s janitorial staff, we—the student body as a whole—should take measures to correct it as well if we value our collective health.

Sure, we could take the easy route and seek vaccinations if hepatitis A threatens us, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; it’s better that we do our part in keeping the bathrooms clean rather than prepare for the worst. Keep in mind that custodians are picking up after about 20,000 of us, and if we make their jobs harder by absolving ourselves of any responsibility to keep the campus tidy because we think that that’s THIER job, then it is no surprise that the bathrooms are never as clean as they should be.

We can begin to rectify that with the simplest of things, such as throwing our used paper towels in the trash, rather than on the floor, and flushing after ourselves. We’re all college students—our bathroom conduct should reflect the maturity that suggests.

For efficiency’s sake, cleaning logs can be posted within bathrooms for both students and custodians to see when a bathroom was last serviced. If a student notices that a bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in an inordinate amount of time, they can bring it to the attention of the janitorial staff, who can then make it a priority to visit and service that neglected bathroom.

Administration at Pierce can help the issue as well. Waste can be cut back by installing electric hand dryers to replace paper towels in the bathrooms. Also, signs placed in bathrooms that detail the risks of diseases such as hepatitis can inspire students to be more hygienic.

We all need to make a concerted effort to ensure that our bathrooms are clean. With health concerns such as hepatitis A posing such a risk in unsanitary environments, doing our part and cleaning up after ourselves is as much a conscious preventative effort as it is a common courtesy.