TikTok has been an outlet for many teens during the pandemic. Various trends and challenges have passed through TikTok, each with its unique twist, though recently reaching new extremes. Over the past couple of weeks, a new challenge called “devious licks” has surfaced on social media. “Devious licks” are odd or funny ways to steal everyday school objects. The trend started with students stealing toilet paper rolls or calculators, but have now become as extreme as removing bathroom stall doors from their hinges. This trend has negatively impacted the Berkeley High School (BHS) janitorial staff and displayed the extremes students will go to for recognition on social media.
Students and teachers alike have been surprised by the extent of this challenge, which has caused thousands of dollars in damage due to replacing utilities and paying for the janitorial staff’s overtime. Brooke McKinney, an English Universal Ninth Grade (U9) teacher, said, “We don’t want to spend money on damages. We want to spend money, in my opinion, on computers, or books, or something that will really benefit students.”
The janitorial staff at BHS has had to work tirelessly to clean up after this trend. The second-floor C-Building custodian said, “[The trend] is horrific, it makes no sense. It’s damaging the property here on campus and is causing the custodians to stress because we have to remove graffiti, broken soap dispensers, toiletries, stopping up toilets, and it causes us to have to work extra hard.”
What started as a form of entertainment has now affected the lives of students and BHS staff, who have had to work overtime for the past month to ensure BHS can function properly.
Many students acknowledge the damage of this trend, but have also noticed the administration’s quick response, in contrast to their often slow and unsatisfactory responses to other issues, such as sexual harm. Many students have voiced their hope that the administration cares about the health and safety of students as much as the condition of their property.
While there are many perspectives on this trend, the most compelling one is arguably that of the custodial staff. The C-Building custodian said, “I just wish that the administrators … would be more concerned about how to communicate with students to let them know how damaging it really is.” We should all remember that while engaging in fun trends or challenges can be a meaningful way to connect, they can also have unintended consequences on important members of the community.