Cops versus robbers; Jedi versus Sith; students versus administration; us versus them. Since the dawn of time (or the dawn of media), that’s how the pitched battle between positive and negative has always been framed. For many, it is easier to outline the debate between student rights and administrative policy in absolute terms. The reality, however, is quite different.
Both the administration and student body may want the same thing: a secure and academically challenging environment. The fact remains, however, that year after year the administration and students are unable to negotiate a successful resolution in both safety-related and academically-related arenas. This year especially reflects the difficulties that arise when the two schools groups integral to the fabric of the community fail to communicate. The administration’s tendency to avoid open discussion with the student body has resulted in the misalignment of the common goals of the student body and the administration into what are perceived as opposing ones.
The fall term opened with increasingly restrictive rules, intended to limit the amount of space available to students. The library crackdown and policy of barring students from certain floors, while established to cut down on corridor noise and garbage, demonstrate the administration’s lack of understanding of student needs. Cramming students into crowded floors and closing the library to latecomers needlessly constrained students whose only “crime” was wanting a place to go during lunch and free periods.
These “popular” measures were joined by the academic policy requiring all sophomores, starting next fall, to take Advanced Placement (AP) Global History or European History. Though the policy was implemented to compensate students who carry “equivalent” workloads, the administration didn’t consider the differences between the two courses and, once again, the needs of those who are most affected by its policy: the students. Instead of resolving the original problem, this plan might backfire and ultimately cause more harm.
On the heels of the AP History controversy came the decision to implement the last prong of “Teitel’s Trident,” the locker policy, which will be in effect come fall. The locker policy is not only futile, it also reflects the inability of the administration to negotiate and resolve problems in conjunction with the student body. The administration, obviously, prefers to ignore student concerns, thereby replacing student needs with administrative agenda.
The administration has become increasingly dependent upon solutions such as these. Throughout the year, when seeking to solve problems, convenience and a false sense of security have taken precedence over innovation and rational dialogue. Both students and administrators understand the need for a secure environment, but a policy that provides no real increase in security and unnecessarily violates the right to privacy is unacceptable.
This year’s problems indicate the need for a solution. Luckily for the administration, this should be obvious. Students, through the SU and other student groups, take an active role in proposing and refining the policies that have such a huge impact on their everyday lives. Ultimately, the obligation to make policies that factor in the needs of the students and allow for open dialogue in every decision it makes, lies with the administration.