By Aidan Stoddart
If I go to the cafeteria to buy my lunch, I can’t leave to go to my favorite hangout (The I.S. Lab in Downstairs Purple Hall) unless I show a pass to the administrator blocking the hallway between the cafeteria and the rest of the school. I remember the first day the enforcement of this rule began. An administrator who knew me didn’t let me leave because I didn’t know about the pass rule and I didn’t have a pass for the I.S. Lab from Mr. Baran. I was stuck in the cafeteria without any of my friends or any real space to catch-up on work.
It’s fair to say that on one level I’m salty about it simply because I had been going to the I.S. Lab every day and I don’t cause trouble and it was only because of the rule itself that all of a sudden the situation changed (which made the contrived nature of the rule strikingly obvious).
But I have qualms with the rule itself. What good does it do? That’s not a rhetorical question, I’m asking it seriously. I’d love an answer. Because from my standpoint, it’s only problematic. It’s not useful.
“During the lunches we just need to make sure that students are supervised and not just roaming around,”
said an administrator when asked about the motivation behind the rule,
“and so the lunch passes help us… if a student is leaving the cafeteria for some reason to eat in the media center or with another teacher, we know where they are in case there is an emergency. So it’s really kind of a supervision and safety structure.”
That sounds pretty good but I don’t think this system is actually implemented in a way that truly supervises or regulates.
For one thing, if you want to leave the cafeteria, you have to show a pass. But if you pack your lunch, you don’t have to go up to the cafeteria in the first place. You can go where you want and no one needs to see your pass. So surely the rule isn’t about keeping track of where everyone is.
For another thing, even if it’s helpful to keep track of the people who DO go to the cafeteria to buy lunch, I don’t ever see anyone recording where everyone is headed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you needed to find someone during a lunch period at the school, how would the pass system help you find them any more quickly? Unless the administrators have photographic memories, I don’t think it will be of much aid.
Because I can’t perceive any real logistical benefits to the pass system, it only looks like a power-play to me. It feels like an administration that doesn’t trust its students exerting some kind of weird authority by requiring students to receive permission to eat lunch where they want to eat, even from teachers that already don’t mind lunch guests at all. For example, Mr. Baran didn’t start making reusable lunch passes for his students until the pass rule was in place.
If we really need to regulate and supervise and maintain safety, we need to do it in a different way than this. Because this is at best an inconsistent imposition of authority over students who happen to go to the cafeteria to buy lunch. That seems pretty lame to me.