The 2,911 lockers at Stuyvesant were assigned to students without any major problems, though it is too early to tell whether the new system will achieve its goal of reducing theft in school.
Over the summer, administrators had locks placed on every locker. Students had until the end of the first week of school to pay 11 dollars if they wished to have access to their assigned locker.
After payments were received, administrators e-mailed students their locker combination and instructions on unlocking their locks.
Approximately 1800 students handed in around $20,000, according to Assistant Principal Technology Edward Wong. Students who did not pay will either share lockers or not have one for the year. The school was not compensated for the locks it did not sell.
In past years, the school assigned lockers to each student, but there was little way of ensuring that students use their assigned lockers.
For the first time, juniors had the opportunity to choose their locker online over the summer, a policy the Student Union (SU) proposed last year to Principal Stanley Teitel. Within two days, around 600 students responded, while the remaining 200 students were assigned lockers. Teitel said he might extend such a policy to sophomores and seniors next year if the new locker system continues.
While the locks and lockers were distributed as planned, there have been some problems. Some students had trouble opening their lock despite the instructions that were e-mailed to their Stuyvesant accounts.
“It’s really a four digit combination,” said physical education teacher Larry Barth, a former dean who now also works in the guidance department. “They get to the third number, and they don’t know what to do.”
According to the instructions, students, after turning to the three numbers in the combination, must turn the dial left until it stops. This is considered the fourth digit.
Other students had incorrectly set up the forwarding system from their school account to a separate e-mail account, and their combinations were thus “lost in cyberspace,” said Assistant Principal Technology Edward Wong.
The locks can also be opened by keys, though the SU and Teitel agreed last school year that the locks would not have keyholes.
“I might have reneged on the deal there,” said Teitel. Towards the end of last school year, according to Teitel, machinist Kern Levigion and Wong said the keyholes would facilitate removing the locks students leave on their lockers at the end of each school year. Without consulting the SU, he decided to include keyholes.
SU President Jamila Ma said the SU “never welcomed the policy,” but “we thought we had come to a deal with the administration.”
Not including the keyholes, which was a part of that deal, “was one of our first concerns,” she said. According to Ma, students have gained access to master keys, such as those to classrooms and those to turn on and off the escalators, in the past. What concerns Ma is the possibility that “you can take the key and open up any [locker] you want,” she said.
Neither Teitel nor the deans have access to the keys, which Teitel said are locked away. The combinations are stored outside of the school server and are not in the school system.
If the keys or combinations were to fall into the hands of someone who would use them illicitly, “I don’t have a solution for that,” said Teitel.
Despite such concerns, according to Dean Robert Rosen, the new locker system has “made a world of difference.”
In previous years, deans clipped up to 300 locks daily for the first few days of school when students placed their locks on lockers assigned to others. According to Barth, minor conflicts over lockers arose between students under the former policy that have not occurred this year.
The question of increased security—the administration’s principal reason for implementing the new policy—has yet to be answered. Rosen said that although he was not aware of any locker related crimes this year, they would be more likely to occur during the winter. Items such as jackets are more likely to be stolen during this time. “We don’t have any evidence,” said Rosen, of the preventative effect of the new system.
Teitel said he will base his decision to continue the system next year on that evidence.
If the policy is implemented next year, the school will buy a new set of locks and reuse the locks that some students leave on their lockers at the end of each year. Locks will be sold to students in the same manner as this year.
Assistant Principal Physical Education Martha Singer ordered this year’s locks because of her experience ordering and selling them for physical education classes. She said students paid slightly more than the cost for each lock, though it was “a few pennies difference.” Considering the cost of shipping, “the school is probably losing money,” she said.
The SU plans to distribute a survey in the coming months to learn the students’ opinions on the new locker policy. “We’ll see what they liked and didn’t like,” said Ma.