Opinion | The barrier between administration and students: balancing grace with accountability

Penelope LaFleur, Staff Writer

This year at ETHS, there are many differences in rules that the student body isn’t quite used to. For example, assigned cafeterias, the phone policy, new hirings, etc. During the 2021-2022 school year, assigned cafeterias were implemented, but were soon ignored as the year progressed. Students were able to go to any cafeteria for lunch, regardless of where their schedule said they should be. 

However, during this school year, there are more strict regulations surrounding who can go where. Students are turned away from cafeterias that aren’t on their schedules, and the lines going into cafeterias are longer than ever before. Phones are also something that has changed. This year, teachers are expected to write referrals to anyone that is on their phone after the passing period ends, and phones aren’t supposed to be on your person when class starts. 

There are also a lot of things happening behind the scenes that students aren’t necessarily privy to, which is most likely the reason why there’s been such an uproar surrounding the newer rules.

 “Last year there was a lot of grace given to us students because we were coming back from covid and that was a shift. We had a lot of flexibility. I recently had a conversation with Dr. Campbell about this because I was trying to see their side. Courtyards aren’t open this year, and there are less doors to leave out of, mainly because there aren’t enough safety officers to facilitate those lines or courtyards because they’re all in the lunchrooms. That’s the primary reason for a lot of things,” junior and student representative Nicole Yao explains. “I’m completely with students when I say that freedom and flexibility are definitely things we want, but they’re also a privilege to have. Last year we were given so much grace and we weren’t being held accountable because it was that transition year and so this year the administration is really trying to find the balance between giving us grace but also holding us accountable.” 

The lack of safety officers is a recurring problem when the topics of assigned lunchrooms and strict lunch areas are brought up, especially by staff.

Yet, the majority of students, unless they ask, are not being included in the conversation, that is, the real reason that these rules are so much more strict this year. All that the students are seeing is that they can no longer sit in the same cafeteria with their friends and will be turned away and told to go to a different area. They’re not seeing what’s behind that, which is the administration trying to make this transition as easy as possible when they’re working with less staff than usual. Without knowing that this is a necessary guideline that they have to implement in order to make sure the students are being supervised, and therefore safe; without this being communicated publicly, it causes resentment towards the administration, from the students. Every student should be made aware of why these changes are happening.

This information isn’t a secret either—it’s just not being widely communicated with the students. 

“The biggest [policy change] for me is the assigned lunch rooms. A lot of my friends are assigned to South, and I’m assigned to North, so I can’t really chill with them unless we’re in the hub, and the senior courtyard got closed down, who knows why, so we can’t go eat out there,” senior Andrew Skinner says. “So because of this new assigned rule, barely anyone gets to eat lunch where they really want to. It just messes with everybody’s schedule. I know that school isn’t supposed to be about having fun, but lunch is the one brief rest that you get from an onslaught of work.” 

When I told Andrew that there was a safety staff shortage, he said that he had no idea.

 “It does make me sympathize with them a little more. Even if they are understaffed, they don’t necessarily need two people standing at the end of H hall on every single floor and those people could go do something else, like monitor the courtyards,” Skinner elaborates. “I just don’t think he [Dr. Campbell] has enough interaction with the students. I’m not saying Witherspoon was perfect, but he definitely came around and said hi to people, and people knew Witherspoon. But Campbell doesn’t really interact with anybody, and so not only is he mysterious, but the reasons for his policies are in the dark to most students.”

 The students are only seeing what the administration is presenting to them, and not the issues behind that, which should no longer be the norm. Whether through announcements or emails, us students deserve more communication and transparency from the administration.