Closed campus lunch proves smothering to underclassmen


Art by Maddy Meuller

Anna Wright

Art by Maddy Meuller
Art by Maddy Meuller
The recent changes for the school district and RBHS have been both far reaching and complex. Along with the many concrete changes in school rules and procedures that have been finalized, a dozen more questions simultaneously arise.
As we navigate through this new and unfamiliar high school setup for the first time, it gives us a great opportunity for reflection as we evaluate what elements of our school’s culture to keep and what to change.
The school district introduced the idea of closed campus lunches to RBHS last year as a tentative idea, given the impending changes that accompanied the addition of freshman to the building. Although RBHS induldged sophomores, juniors and seniors with the privilege of open campus lunch in the past, ideas began to circulate last year regarding whether this was a safe practice for incoming underclassman. School officials, with helpful input from parents and community members, came to the conclusion that only juniors and seniors would be given the privilege of off-campus lunch, while sophomores and freshman would remain confined to the RBHS campus during their 35 minute lunch period.
And, although the grounding ideas behind closed campus lunch for underclassmen are, in theory, understandable, freshmen and sophomores should be permitted to be allowed to vacate the school during their lunch block.
Having an open campus for all four grade levels is crucial if RBHS wishes to maintain consistency with our “freedom with responsibility” motto. Not only is it a huge piece of our school culture, but it teaches students personal responsibility and time management as students they plan out how to leave school, get food and return to campus in time for their next period class. Rather than adjusting long-standing practices in order to satisfy anxious parents, RBHS should be striving to incoorperate the lowerclassman into the current school culture.
One of the most apparent flaws in the closed campus rule for underclassman lies in the inconsistency of this year’s rules as compared to former practices. For years, sophomores who were new to RBHS enjoyed the privilege of off campus lunch without recurring problems regarding the safety or integrity of the students who exercised this privilege. Never in the past have sophomores proven to be less responsible when given the opportunity to go off campus for lunch.
However, the addition of an even lower grade level to the building, sophomores have been hastily thrown into a category of students perceived as less reliable and less deserving of upperclassmen privileges. It isn’t fair to the sophomores that they are unable to do what hundreds of 10th graders did before them, simply because ninth graders are now attending their classes at RBHS, nor is it reasonable that the ninth graders be subjected to the same closed-campus procedure that they have been throughout their entire school career.
If RBHS is serious about promoting their central principal of freedom with responsibility, we should be introducing the ninth graders to new privileges, so that they may, in turn, learn to exercise a greater degree of responsibility.
Parents of underclassman expressed concern last year regarding the safety of their sons and daughters if the school were to establish an open-campus policy for all grade levels. The closed-campus policy that followed was an attempt to ensure the safety of younger students who either cannot yet drive and may attempt to walk to lunch, as well as new drivers who may not be experienced on the road. Though the placing of student safety at the top of the school officials priority list and implementing rules to protect the underclassman is commendable, an open campus lunch policy is neither dangerous, nor impractical. Nearly all sophomores will turn 16 at some point during their 10th grade school year, and many will receive their drivers licenses and a car.
If these students are already okay driving to and from school, a quick trip to Jimmy Johns mid-day should not pose any more of a safety threat than their trip to school in the morning.
Furthermore, freshmen who can’t yet get their licenses or drive to school on their own most likely have older friends who do drives, and can take them out to lunch during the day. Regarldess of whether or not any underclassman has the ability to drive, the option of leaving campus should at least exist. Any students without the ability to drive or to go to lunch with a friend who does drive still has the option of remaining on campus for lunch. The simple opportunity to leave campus does not make doing so mandatory, and lowerclassmen without the means to leave campus by no means have to. However, administrators should give this priviledge to freshmen and sophomores because as high schoolers they should be expected to possess the degree of responsibility necessary to make the decision as to whether or not it is safe for them to leave campus during lunch. If their parents are concerned about any safety issues this entails, that should be between the student and their parent. If a parent does not feel comfortable with their child leaving the school campus for 35 minutes each day, that should be an rule which the parent can establish for their son or daughter individually, rather than RBHS establishing a school-wide policy regarding the matter.
After all, if a parent doesn’t feel they can trust their child to obey rules and boundaries which the parents have personally established, that is an issue in and of itself. It is not the job of the school to enforce a rule stemming from parental concern expressed by a very select few.
Not only is the closed campus policy flawed and inconsistent with RBHS culture in and of itself, but the school has yet to implement any way whatsoever to enforce the new policy. It is entirely possible for sophomores with cars to leave campus during their lunch period and be back in time for Bruin Block, and there is no way for the school to prevent this from happening.
In the same sense, freshman can get rides off campus from upperclassman friends after their Bruin Block lets out, and be dropped back off in time for their third hour class. RBHS is not enforcing the policy, but rather trusting the honesty and obedience of underclassman to remain on campus during their lunch period.
Theoretically, this lack of concrete enforcement is consistent with “freedom with responsibility”, however, a problem arises in that the majority of underclassman students do not agree with the closed campus policy. Because sophomores and freshmen possess the fully grounded notion that being forced to stay at school during lunch is neither fair nor reasonable, they are not undertaking the responsibility of being honest and remaining at school during their lunch period.
Thus, by implementing a widespread policy that is neither enforceable or supported by students, the school is sending the message to its students that it is both easy and acceptable to disobey school policy.
The current policy of closed-campus lunch for underclassman is both unreasonable and contradictory towards the values of RBHS. As high schoolers, freshmen and sophomores possess the level of maturity and responsibility necessary to possess the privilege of open campus lunch. The school should establish an open campus policy for all grade levels in order to fully reflect its motto of allowing freedom with responsibility and to retain its unique and long-standing liberal school culture.
[module type=a category=”Op/Ed” amount=”4″ ] By Anna Wright