New motion-activated sinks in gym bathrooms produce mixed reactions from students

Garrett Shonkwiler
Freshman Chris Wilson gives a thumbs-up as water comes out of a new motion-activated sink installed over spring break.

In recent years, Country Day has been phasing out old technology and replacing it with new, environmentally friendly equipment.

“Whether it’s lighting or plumbing, we’re trying to make decisions based on conservation,” head of maintenance Jay Holman said. “We’re installing occupancy sensors on the lights. We’re going with low-flow toilets.”

Over spring break, another step in water conservation was taken when the school installed new counters and motion-activated sinks in the gym bathrooms. (Additionally, the lavatory doors were painted.)

Holman originally intended to replace only the counter in the boys’ bathroom when the laminate cracked in late February for an unknown reason.

“It could have been vandalism. It could have been age,” Holman said.

According to Michelle Myers, PE department chair, the school’s sinks had not been replaced since 2001.

“I felt we had a safety concern,” Holman said. “There were some sharp edges. We looked into addressing that safety concern and decided that we would do a small cosmetic upgrade to the restrooms.”

According to a poll taken on April 25, 47 percent of high schoolers approve of the change, 23 percent do not, and 30 percent have no opinion.

A junior succinctly summed up most of the complaints of the 23 percent: “(The water is) always cold, and the water pressure sucks.”

With the automation of the sinks came fixed temperature and water pressure, two changes that some students disapprove of.

“I don’t like how we don’t have the option to make it hotter or colder,” junior Annya Dahmani said. “I like hot water better than cold water.”

However, the school can reset the temperature based on student feedback.

“The sinks have a mixing valve that maintenance can adjust if we get feedback that it’s too hot or too cold,” Holman said. “We set them at a temperature that was comfortable for a hand-wash sink.”

The other common complaint concerned the sinks’ reduced water pressure, a part of the push to conserve water.  

“You can’t control how much water comes out,” freshman David Situ said. “I’d have preferred that the money went to something like a hand dryer.”

But freshman Héloïse Schep disagreed.

“I really like the sinks because they’re environmentally friendly and because they have the motion sensor, which is very efficient,” Schep said.

“I don’t mind that you don’t have warm water because I usually wash my hands with cold water anyway.”

By Garrett Shonkwiler

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