After three incidents involving Stuyvesant students disrupting neighborhood businesses during the 2008-2009 school year, Principal Stanley Teitel decided to restrict the incoming freshman class’s out-to-lunch privileges. According to Teitel, all freshmen will have their out-to-lunch privileges at the beginning of the school year, but will have it revoked if they receive a grade of ‘Unsatisfactory’ (U) or two or more grades of ‘Needs Improvement’ (N) for the first marking period.
The freshmen will have the opportunity to get their out-to-lunch privilege back “if they’re passing all of their classes in the second marking period,” Teitel said.
According to incoming freshmen, during the first Camp Stuy on Thursday, June 4, Teitel originally told them that no freshmen would be allowed to go out for lunch for the first six weeks of the school year. After six weeks, freshmen with high enough grades would earn the privilege to go out for lunch. However, this policy has been revised.
“[The revised policy] sounds a lot better. We shouldn’t just try hard for the six weeks,” freshman Jessica Toib said. “It is an inspiration to do better. It’s a reason for us to do better. That way we know we have to try hard.”
Teitel decided to restrict the lunch policy for the incoming freshman class after three incidents that occurred during the last school year. These incidents involved students being disruptive in the Whole Foods grocery store, students throwing chicken bones in the Barnes & Noble bookstore, and students sneaking into the Regal Battery Park Stadium 11 cinema and drinking alcoholic beverages. These prompted a call to the school from the local businesses. The students involved lost their lunch privileges and their parents were contacted.
“Some of our students, in some cases, may not be mature enough to deal with being able to go out to lunch,” Teitel said. “When they do something wrong, that reflects on all of us.”
According to Teitel, the reason that the new policy applies only to freshmen is that “freshmen are busy making the transition from middle school to high school. If they’re getting a ‘U’ or two or more ‘N’s,’ then they’re not making the transition the right way,” Teitel said. “I’ll decide what to do with the older students another time.”
Teitel has not yet decided whether the change will be permanent or not. “I want to see how it works,” he said.
Teitel has also not decided what he might do if the disruptive incidents involving students continue to occur despite the policy change. “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” Teitel said.
One negative effect that Teitel addressed was the possibility of overcrowded hallways during lunch periods. “If enough freshmen fail, it may increase how many students are in the hallway at a time,” Teitel said. “I could always use the theater [for study hall] and force everyone out of the hall and into the theater, but I don’t foresee that at all. I think the freshmen will come in and do the right thing and not lose their out-to-lunch privilege.”
Students have mixed feelings about the change in policy. “It doesn’t make a difference,” junior Mohammad Hossain said. “Academic records don’t always reflect behavior. I understand what Mr. Teitel is trying to do: correlate grades with behavior, but that’s not always going to work.”
“Since this is for first marking period grades, I think it’s particularly terrible. Freshmen are only starting to adjust to teachers and classes. Often a poor mark first marking period is seen as a sign to work a little harder,” junior Huma Sayiida said. “I don’t find it particularly fair. There are already retributions for poor grades.”
However, some students have positive reactions to the change. “It gives students a higher motive to do better. It’s a higher motive to do better in school, which in turn, gives you a privilege of getting more freedom,” freshman Elizabeth Levitis said.
“I think it’s a good idea because obviously there have been incidents at Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble involving chicken bones. What Teitel said about representing the Stuy community, I think, is true,” junior Kathy Lin said. “You have to lay down the law somewhere.”