Reactions to TikTok challenge not effective

Lasirra Hines, Opinions Editor

A trend on TikTok titled the “Devious Licks” challenge has blown up nationwide, with students around the country filming themselves performing acts of vandalism in school bathrooms. The trend made its way to Kansas, and Manhattan High East and West campuses have been affected by the trend over the past week.

Many of the bathrooms had soap all over the floors from students cutting open or removing the entire soap dispenser, which were already limited. Paper towel dispensers were removed from the wall and placed in the toilets.

The administration has spent time this week reviewing security footage to find out which students are committing the acts and are working on the legal and disciplinary actions that will be taken. Also as a result of the trend, many of the bathrooms at both campuses have been closed, limiting access to the bathrooms.

The Mentor Editorial board believes that there is no productive administrative reaction to the situation.

The legal aspect of the situation is concerning. A student who chooses to participate in a nonsensical trend that exhibits illegal vandalism could end up with a permanent mark on their record. 

The severity of the act and the overall impact it has will determine the consequences facing the students who participated. There is a difference between yanking an entire urinal off of the wall and removing soap dispensers. Neither of those should happen, nor does the Editorial Board condone this, but there is a clear difference in the severity of the act. One could result in suspension, the other brings in fines and much more legal consequences. 

Although there should be consequences for these illegal actions, we are concerned that it isn’t beneficial to make an example of students by charging them with vandalism for a TikTok challenge. Helping students genuinely care about school by making it something worth attending regardless of legal requirement rather than just punishing them is a more effective alternative.

Another concerning point is the response of closing bathrooms. There are signs posted up near the majority of the bathrooms at West that say that the bathrooms are closed to prevent any more vandalism. 

It is understandable why the administration chose to do this, as it may have been the only way for them to double down on prevention of vandalism. However, it creates a situation where the students are limited to only a couple of bathrooms, and there are over 1,300 students alone at West campus and another 500 freshmen at East. Forcing over 1,000 students into a limited number of bathrooms during a pandemic is not the most logical step to take.

A point brought up by a student was that it also neglects disabled students at the schools. With the limited number of bathrooms, students may have to walk all the way to the other side of the school just to use the restroom, and for disabled students, this isn’t convenient.  

This brings up the ongoing debate about the glorification of social media. With a significant number of students invested in social media, so much that they are willingly doing something that not only affects other people but the whole school, we have to ask “What are we doing?”

As stated, none of the measures taken seem to be productive in the prevention of vandalism or proper punishment of students involved. 

Students, you’re only hurting yourself in the process of vandalizing the bathrooms. It’s counterproductive to destroy the bathrooms, knowing that your peers, as well as yourself, use them. 

The trend is ridiculous, and it’s not worth having a possible permanent mark on your record for something as absurd as vandalizing school bathrooms.