Changing Stuy’s Changing Spaces
Issue 15, Volume 113
Running late to sports practice, student-athletes flood Stuyvesant’s bathrooms, only to be greeted by long lines which seem to move much slower than the minutes ticking by. There are currently two changing spaces at Stuyvesant: bathrooms and locker rooms. Bathrooms, on the one hand, have long lines and nowhere to store backpacks and other belongings, preventing students from getting to practice on time. Locker rooms, on the other hand, are closed after school. Furthermore, they offer only a limited amount of privacy, which can be uncomfortable for many students. These issues plague not only student-athletes, but also seniors who need to change for their physical education (PE) classes. Because seniors aren’t given gym lockers, most of them store their gym clothes in their personal lockers and change in the bathrooms closest to their lockers in order to save time. Despite these efforts, seniors are often late to their PE classes because of bathroom lines and the extra travel time it takes to go to their lockers.
Since the locker rooms are closed when PSAL athletes need to change, most of them use the bathrooms instead. However, this is less than ideal, as the already-limited number of bathroom stalls is also divided among the much larger general student population. Sophomore Winifred Thompson, a member of the Vixens, Stuyvesant’s girls’ varsity volleyball team, explained some of the conflicts which cause her and her teammates to be late for practice. “There’s other teams or people coming from PE [ninth or 10th period] or people who actually have to use the bathrooms and are also waiting,” Thompson said. Because of the long lines in the bathroom, many students resort to changing in other places. “[Some people change] in places like storage closets or a random corner,” Thompson said.
In some cases, even the bathrooms are unavailable. “Sometimes the bathrooms are locked because it’s the end of the day and they’re trying to clear out the building,” Thompson said. In addition to the long lines, changing on the unsanitary bathroom floors can be extremely unpleasant.Seniors are all too familiar with these problems. The lack of locker room access forces many to run up and down multiple flights of stairs in the few minutes before their PE classes. “It just makes it more inconvenient,” senior Ruby Lin said. “We have to find a bathroom to change in [...] before classes, and then we also have to go to our lockers to store our stuff away. But my locker is on the second floor and the gym is [on] the sixth floor.”
Even students who do have access to the locker rooms feel that the changing process can become hectic. Freshman Ashie Sinha said, “Having a short time period of access to the locker room before [PE] creates a somewhat uncomfortable environment [for] those who prefer privacy while changing.” Since students have to change so quickly due to the brevity of allocated time, they are often unable to wait for a bathroom stall or other private location in the locker room to become available.
Certain steps can be taken to address the issues regarding Stuyvesant’s changing spaces. For example, Lin suggested moving senior lockers to the same floors as the gyms to ensure easy access before PE. “We can’t really add more lockers ‘cause there isn’t space, but maybe they could put senior lockers on the fifth floor or the floors closer to the gym,” Lin proposed.
Though student athletes feel that a designated changing space would be more convenient, it is nearly impossible to find such a space considering Stuyvesant’s already crowded facilities. When asked whether the administration should make any changes, Thompson said, “If we could talk about finding a space that’s out of the way, and that works, that’s feasible for people to be able to change, that would be great, and would probably streamline our process a little bit more.” Though an ideal changing space will not magically materialize, opening the locker rooms after school could be a viable alternative.
Regarding the issues for seniors changing into their PE uniforms, the school administration might consider prolonging the time given for changing. “There should be a longer time period to change in the locker room,” Sinha said. This would ease the pressure of having to wait in long lines without enough time, thus making it easier for students who prefer more privacy.
Though the issues regarding Stuyvesant’s changing spaces may seem like mere inconveniences, they can seriously impact students’ ability to get to class on time and interfere with their comfort. While students can communicate their needs to the administration in order to work toward a long-term solution, teachers can also help by being understanding toward students arriving to class late due to changing-related reasons. Oftentimes, it is not a matter of an individual’s lack of time management, but rather a schoolwide issue that students are doing their best to navigate.