Opinion | Having friends in ETHS is hard

Maria Gomez, Staff Writer

Making friends is hard in any situation. It is especially difficult, however, to  ask another student if you can sit and have lunch with them. I know this, because I was a new student last year. I remember coming to school the first day with no friends or anyone I knew. The lonely panorama of not having friends to sit in lunch with was terrifying. 

There aren’t many moments where you can actually socialize in school. Every class, we’re with a different cohort of classmates, and passing periods only last ten minutes.  So the only part of the day that we have to make friends is the lunch periods, which are made for more than just eating your lunch. They provide a moment to take a break from the academic content and classes while socializing with your peers. But, how are we supposed to be comfortable in our only free time with the policy of assigned cafeterias, as if we were in a prison? The excuse is  that the school doesn’t have enough spaces, which I can comprehend, but there should exist a solution at least in winter months we’re eating outside is not an option.

“Go to the Hub if you want to eat with your friends,” some may say, but when in the Hub, they don’t allow more than four people in a huge table. At the end of lunch, I can see plenty of seats and open tables that could be used by people that were rejected at the entrance because of “lack of capacity.” It’s understandable that there should exist a maximum of people per place, but if the school is aware of the quantity of students,they should create more spaces where we can eat lunch with our friends, so students don’t feel the pressure of spending their only free time with no one. It’s sad how we see people eating alone, because it is just “their cafeteria.” It’s ironic how the school “cares about us” while they think that we go to our break just to “eat.” 

My friends and I used to eat in the north wing, me being the only one not having that assigned cafeteria, but when the policy started, I couldn’t eat with my peers any more. So we decided to move to the Hub. Then we saw how unfair it is for the people that come from places far from the Hub to get in. I have art class before lunch, so everyday I have to run to be in the line and not lose my seat. 

Another space where students can technically spend their lunch is the Academic Study Center, but that has its challenges too due to the movement restrictions during lunch. I was studying in the center last week when I heard one of the workers say, “I can give you a pass to go and grab lunch in one of the cafeterias, but I can’t let you in again.” What’s that supposed to mean? So I can grab lunch, but I can’t eat in the cafeteria because I’m studying (that’s why I went to the study center) but I can’t come back, as well I can’t be in the hallways without a pass. This situation is incoherent. 

The location for lunch is a problem that the school should work on, being aware of not only the capacity of people in each space, but also taking into account how students feel in their only free time obligated to be in a space with people that they don’t know at all.