Tight security in the lunchroom increases South’s prison like atmosphere

South+is+known+for+its+ability+to+protest+over+matters+they+care+about.+On+November+22%2C+students+gathered+on+the+balcony+to+protest+against+increasingly+strict+security+at+South%2C+specifically+a+cutdown+on+student+passes.
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Tight security in the lunchroom increases South’s prison like atmosphere

South is known for its ability to protest over matters they care about. On November 22, students gathered on the balcony to protest against increasingly strict security at South, specifically a cutdown on student passes.

South is known for its ability to protest over matters they care about. On November 22, students gathered on the balcony to protest against increasingly strict security at South, specifically a cutdown on student passes.

Graham Doyle

South is known for its ability to protest over matters they care about. On November 22, students gathered on the balcony to protest against increasingly strict security at South, specifically a cutdown on student passes.

Graham Doyle

Graham Doyle

South is known for its ability to protest over matters they care about. On November 22, students gathered on the balcony to protest against increasingly strict security at South, specifically a cutdown on student passes.

Graham Doyle, Staff Writer

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Lunch is the only free time for many students at South High. Most students like to spend their lunch relaxing and catching up with friends. However, due to the administration’s attempts to tighten security at South, students are no longer allowed access to the second and third floor during lunch. This policy has been around since last year but this year there has been an increasingly strict approach to security policy at South.

The initiative to keep students on the first floor is a direct result of South’s mice and rat infestation. Principal Brett Stringer said, “So when I got here this summer, we walked the building and there were so many mice and rats on the second and third floor. It all came down to food.”

During lunch, students often bring their food back to class with them and often leave food and trash behind. Mice and rats thrive off of trash and food left by students. Stringer also said, “We looked at where we could concentrate food. We’re trying to keep food where we know we can keep it clean.” While this seems like a simple request, students still disagree.

Under current policy, students have two options on how to spend their thirty minute lunch period: either go outside or sit in the lunchroom. During the winter, going outside becomes less of an appealing option due to the cold. For many students, the lunchroom is an equally unappealing place to spend their lunch. 

Over the summer, renovations to the commons were made in order to make it a more pleasing and bright space. These renovations are extremely necessary during the winter when natural light is minimal and the weather is bleak. For many students, the commons remains an unpleasant space. Junior Shehnaz Nurein said “The commons is loud, there’s too many people, and it’s dirty. The sunlights don’t even make it that much more pleasant.” During the winter, many students prefer to spend their lunch inside where it’s not so cold.

Staff in the commons enforce this policy in a few different ways. Some staff stand in front of the stairwells, blocking students from passing, and other staff hover around telling students to either go outside or sit down at a table. Nurein continued saying, “They always ask us to sit down, they say “Either sit down or go outside” and sometimes I don’t want to go outside or sit down… it just gets hectic” Some students have legitimate reasons to go to the second and third floors during lunch, like retaking a test or getting help in the Math Center. Some teachers offer their classrooms as spaces for students who need a quieter space to relax. “If you have a pass it’s fine to go up,” added Stringer.

A problem many students encounter when trying to return to class is staff blocking stairwells. Stringer’s approach to this problem is non confrontational, he added, “I stand on my stairwell and Mr. Simondette stands on his stairwell, it shouldn’t be a confrontation…  Since we have classes happening on the second and third floor we just want to keep as many people outta there as possible.” 

Whether staff are confrontational or not, this policy still creates problems for students. Senior Daisy Arens said, “ I was coming inside late from lunch and I didn’t have my ID or a pass and so I wasn’t able to go back to class because they wouldn’t let me up.” Staff often assume the worst of students returning late to class. When a student mistakenly forgets their ID or lacks a pass, staff stop students and slow their return to class. This is counterintuitive because while staff are trying to ensure that a student is in class, they are often slowing students down. Arens added, “I don’t think this policy is helping anybody, it’s getting in the way of students getting to class. I think staff and security should be more lenient, and there should be at least one staircase thats not blocked off.” 

Guarding stairwells only makes South feel more like a prison. The constant need for administration to have control over students creates a lockdown on student bodies. During students’ only free time of the day, they should be allowed to do more than sit in the lunchroom. The solution to the mice and rat infestations lies not in the concentration of food but rather the respect students hold for the school itself. If South didn’t put a lockdown on student bodies, maybe students would feel less inclined to litter and vandalize the school.