Juuling at SHS Sets Off Alarms

David Peng

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It was at the end of first period that yet another fire alarm went off, which seemed to be a drill that had been awkwardly placed.  But many students would find out the truth the next day in homeroom, when they were informed that the fire alarm was allegedly triggered by students vaping in a boys bathroom.

Originally designed to help smokers gradually ease off tobacco, e-cigarettes have become controversial for their appeal and use by younger generations. Companies such as Juul Labs were accused by the FDA of purposefully marketing their products to teens and introducing younger generations to nicotine through appealing fruit flavors such as mango. Since the rise of e-cigarettes, vaping, or juuling, has become an ever-prevalent problem at many high schools and middle schools around the nation, including Scarsdale. “I’m not really seeing massive flocks of juulers in bathrooms anymore, but I’m still definitely seeing, or rather, smelling kids juuling,” commented James Coleman ’20.

This perceived decrease could be a result of the school administration’s efforts to combat the problems. Last year the administration conducted informational sessions. In addition to alerting teachers to be aware of students who leave classes for excessive amounts of time, the administration also monitored vaping by having personnel wander the hallways and bathrooms, and by inspecting security camera logs. “When we get word from other kids that there was juuling going on, we can go to the cameras to see who was going in and out of the bathroom. We interview those kids,” explained Assistant Principal Dr. Christopher Griffin. This year, according to the administration, disciplinary action has already been taken against about 10 students.

Griffin, who oversees school fire drills, has also had to deal with frustrations from the student body and faculty following several false alarms in the past few weeks. “We’ve been advised by our buildings and grounds staff, and the fire department, that [the false alarms] most likely were triggered by kids who were vaping or juuling. We don’t have camera coverage throughout the entire building, but in some cases we’ve been able to identify students who were in those bathrooms when the alarms go off,” said Griffin. One successful use of the cameras was after last year’s Spring Pep Rally, during which a fire alarm forced the entire school temporarily out of the gyms. Camera footage showed a student entering a bathroom where the alarm had been triggered, and the administration later confronted the student.

As students complain about school-wide disruptions caused by juuling, they should remember that the student body shares the responsibility to report people vaping at school. Griffin advises students to inform Assistant Principal Andrea O’Gorman, himself, or any teacher, of vaping in a bathroom. “One of the most disconcerting, upsetting things about this whole thing is when we hear from students that they are not comfortable using the bathrooms. So we need to know,” said Griffin.