CPS must ease restrictions on GroupMe

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Photo by Éléa Gilles
All of us have pet peeves. We’ve all been irritated by the couple that exhibits unnecessary amounts of PDA outside of classrooms, the herd of students who stand and converse in the middle of hallways or the kids who run through the halls like they are elementary school students in recess.
None of these things, however, infuriate students more than the school Wi-Fi.
Beginning last year, district administrators began to place restrictions on the accessibility for school Wi-Fi. Gaming apps such as Clash of Clans, apps promoting promiscuity like Tinder, Grindr and HookBook as well as social apps like Twitter and Instagram were among the apps banned from students who used the school’s internet. Some of these restrictions were applied for good reason. Disallowing students from playing fantasy games or searching for their next sexual hook-up makes sense.
But one particular app called GroupMe has continuously been banned and its reasoning is unknown and illegitimate. The app essentially allows users to create large group texts or send direct messages to other users. For those students who don’t have access to texting, this is an extremely convenient alternative.
If the restriction to this app were to be lifted, it wouldn’t be the first time the district made an app accessible, as the district made Twitter usable on Wi-Fi as of this year.
The GroupMe app is one that is convenient and helpful for several students. Clubs and sports teams use the app as a method of communication. Team captains and club presidents announce schedule changes or meetings to a large group of people in an efficient manner.
The app, however, serves as much more than an announcement board. GroupMe is a wonderful platform for dialogue among students regarding important issues. For example, many use the app to converse with each others regarding a particular class like AP U.S. History. Students can easily exchange study tips, notes or missed homework, and ask each other questions about a particularly difficult question or assignment.
Administrators may argue that the app creates too many distractions in class, but Twitter offers a significantly larger potential of distraction and it was removed from the banned apps list. Also, GroupMe promotes communication amongst students while Twitter can easily turn into mindless scrolling.
Furthermore, as RBHS is a school that preaches the mantra of “Freedom with Responsibility,” allowing students to exercise their own discretion when using an app would be an example of the school putting trust in their students, and backing up their statements with actions.
High schools and school districts should give students the opportunities and resources to be successful. But disallowing access to an app like GroupMe, the district is making communication amongst students more difficult and suffocating them from important and potentially necessary information. If the school and the district truly want to create environments in which their students can thrive, they would start by letting students use apps that can help them reach their full potential.