Emma Newman co-editor-in-chief
Ryo Miyake staff writer
As a part of the “Devious Licks” TikTok challenge, students have vandalized the boys and girls restrooms, creating damages that will cost the district tens of thousands of dollars to repair. This on-campus vandalism includes the removal of soap dispensers, the separation of a toilet from the wall and urination on the walls of the bathroom.
Students throughout the nation have been participating in the “Devious Licks” trend, which began on Sept.1, and posting their acts of vandalism on TikTok. While TikTok has made an effort to take down videos associated with this challenge, students at both the high school and middle school levels continue to participate in such acts.
Assistant Principal Drew Stewart and Principal Mark Mead began to investigate the issue when it first came to their attention about a month ago. While bathroom vandalism is not a recent phenomenon, Stewart said, its current widespread nature is unlike what he has seen in the past.
“We have had an issue with vandalizing in our bathrooms for a few years now, [but] it has come to my attention that it was happening more frequently and that it is a sort of a widespread national phenomenon,” Stewart said. “So far, we [have] do[ne] our normal investigation.”
As a part of the investigation, Stewart interviewed students, responded to tips from teachers and utilized cameras that are located throughout the school to try to identify “suspects.” However, according to Stewart, this investigation has not been successful yet.
“As of right now, we have been not as successful as I would like at catching people, because, obviously, bathrooms are a private place and we don’t station security in there, and we don’t station cameras in there,” Stewart said.
Members of administration are not the only individuals who have noticed the issue, as students and custodians have as well. Custodian Rolando Ramirez witnessed a change in the bathrooms during the past month, most notably in the boys bathroom.
“Apart from removing soaps from soap dispensers, [students] make balls with wet toilet paper and they throw it on the walls and the ceiling,” Ramirez said. “In one of the all-gender bathrooms, they broke the toilet seat. It had to be replaced. It’s very damaging.”
Ramirez specifically views the urination on the walls of the boys bathroom as appalling.
“What are they trying to prove?” Ramirez said. “This is a civilized society. You don’t pee…on the walls instead of the urinal. I’m trying to keep the toilets and bathroom clean for them to use, but no, they pee on the floor. That’s not what civilized people should do.”
To pay for these damages, the district uses money that, according to Stewart, would typically be used for educational purposes.
“It’s incredibly damaging, it’s incredibly expensive, and this money is coming out of our students’ education,” Stewart said.
Stewart blames the TikTok platform and social media as a whole for the issue.
“There’s the devious TikTok challenge that is…sweeping the nation, and I think like most things related to social media, it’s generally a destructive space where people are either polarized in debate or, in this case, actively encouraging people to do damage to their schools that are paid for by their parents’ tax dollars and are intended to help students receive an education,” Stewart said.
To combat the issue, Stewart is planning to work with students with leadership positions in the community to discourage the behavior, as he does not believe that discipline will ultimately be the solution.
“I don’t think that adults will be able to stop bad actors always, especially if it’s in places that are supposed to be private,” Stewart said. “I think we need to rely on our student leaders to help us work with all of the students on campus.”
He hopes that all students will work, whether they are the perpetrators or not, to finally bring an end to the issue.
“In my position, and in education in general, adults wagging their fingers at kids and saying, ‘Don’t do that,’ is generally not effective,” Stewart said. “All I can do is try to make a plea to students that this is their home that they’re destroying, and I need our good citizens to stand up and help us put a stop to this because it’s going to take everyone to help bring it to an end.”