After a year of deliberation and planning, Building Stuy Community (BSC) has finished its final proposal addressing the expansion, delineation and maintenance of student space.
The proposal’s goal is “to designate specific areas in the building as study space and lounge space, and to maintain these areas as either one or the other, in order to minimize disruption to class and faculty,” the written document states.
BSC—a group of students, parents, teachers and administrators that aims to promote a supportive school environment—hopes its proposal expands the number of hallways available for students to occupy during lunch and free periods.
Currently, only the library and first, second and fifth floors are officially open to students during free periods. This policy is loosely implemented. Students continue to congregate on restricted floors.
When security guards and teachers kick students off the hallway, students resort to other places, such as the library, to congregate. Junior Jin Hyae Chun used to socialize on the third floor but then moved to the library because she was consistently kicked off. “[The library] is not the ideal place to go during your lunch or frees, but it’s convenient,” she said.
“The library should be a quiet place ideally, but the problem is that there is no lounge so they end up here,” librarian Chris Asch said.
The influx of students causes a number of problems in the library, including noise, overcrowding and trash.
“I prefer the school finds another place for students who want to socialize and play games,” librarian DeLisa Brown said.
According to BSC’s proposal, lounge areas—defined as places where recreational activities will be allowed—are specified as portions of the first, second and fifth floors, the third floor atrium and the marble staircase.
Study areas—quiet places for reading and working—are specified as portions of the eighth, ninth and 10th floors, the third-floor hallway leading toward the Hudson River staircase, the fourth floor hallway overlooking the third floor atrium and the library. The proposal stipulates “students who are being disruptive will be asked to leave.”
Seniors and BSC co-directors Philip Chang and Sara Yoon hope the proposal will also raise awareness among students about the maintenance of their allotted space.
“It’s not just a plan to designate [an] area. It’s more about learning to have respect for our building and create this culture change,” Chang said.
According to the proposal, garbage disposals will be “strategically placed” in each area to facilitate cleanliness.
“For the plan to work and to be approved, [students] need to demonstrate the ability to take care of the spaces they occupy,” Assistant Principal English Eric Grossman said.
Grossman closed down the sixth floor two years ago because of unrestrained noise and excessive garbage. Last year, he reopened the floor for student use, but was forced to close it down once again because the former problems persisted.
Former School Leadership Team (SLT) representative Samantha Reiser (’07) and former Student Union (SU) President George Zisiadis (’07) initially brought up the lack of student space last year. A rough proposal was made but “was never completely thought out,” Yoon said.
The SLT is a committee made up of teachers, administrators, parents and students that advises the principal on issues related to school policy.
Chang and Yoon drafted a new proposal this year and sought support from teachers, parents and the student body. They consulted Grossman for help on the content and articulation of the written proposal. English teachers Jonathan Weil and Kelly McMahon are also vocal advocates of the proposal.
Weil said he supports the “idea of clearly communicating areas for students to go and have everyone understand the policies.”
BSC has also drafted a letter, which has space for feedback, to be sent to all faculty members requesting their cooperation in the execution of the proposal.
“I like the fact that [BSC] is talking with parents, teachers and soliciting input from everyone,” Grossman said.
Yoon initially presented the proposal at the SLT meeting on Tuesday, November 20, but some faculty members were apprehensive about permitting student congregation in hallways near classrooms and offices.
Principal Stanley Teitel said students “just don’t realize how much noise they’re generating” when they gather outside classes in progress. “The primary responsibility is classroom instruction,” he said.
Grossman and McMahon both spoke at the meeting regarding the need for student space.
“Everyone in this community has a vested interest in figuring out the best way to make use of space,” McMahon said.
The final proposal will be presented at the Tuesday, December 18 SLT meeting. A vote will be held for its approval.
Parents’ Association Co-President Paola de Kock said the proposal “is as realistic as it can be. But implementation is not going to be easy […] Students really need to take responsibility of enforcing the rules. They need to police the areas.”
In a meeting held Thursday, November 29, Chang and Yoon sought support from various student organizations. They invited leaders of the SU, Key Club, SPARK, Big Sibs and ARISTA. According to the proposal, these student organizations will develop a systematic way to check up on these areas for littering and excessive noise.
“If the leaders of the big student organizations of Stuyvesant work together and collaborate on this and get the word out to their own organizations and their own groups, just to spread the word, we feel like this [plan] is very possible,” Yoon said.
“[The proposal] is a really great idea,” SU President Jamila Ma said. “This time, it’s not just one constituency. Everyone is involved.”
Yoon hope these leaders will convey to the student body proper maintenance habits and overall respect for school premises. BSC will inform students of the designated student space areas with signs posted throughout the building, a SU Video Homeroom and an e-mail through the Stuyvesant server.
“If a group of people clean up after themselves, watch how loud they speak, then together, collectively, the student body will also learn to do that,” Yoon said.
The administration has taken measures to address the lack of space by creating a lounge on the first floor, which has been moderately successful.
Sophomore Sonia Sandoval hangs out in the first floor lounge about four times a week. “[There are] not enough comfy seats. If they are taken, people just go upstairs,” she said. “It’s dirty and it needs new furniture, [but] it’s a good place to relax instead of looking out for security guards.”