Poor Communication Strikes?Again
December 4th, 2003
The recent change in ID card policy has caused a silent uproar. The new infraction penalty of community service has been questioned by students both for its fairness and purpose.
Only one quarter of our current student population was here when we could freely walk in and out of the building, showing program cards only when going out to lunch. Those attending Stuy at that time, now exclusively seniors, remember the more relaxed atmosphere. Once, the thought of guards chastising us for forgetting our ID cards seemed ridiculous. Now, it’s the standard, and a daily occurrence.
The fear and shock proceeding from September 11, 2001, led to many changes for the sake of security. As the federal government passed the Patriot Act and other similar legislation, Stuyvesant changed its policies as well, with different methods but similar intentions. At Stuyvesant, the inconvience of ID card policies and indoor lunch were overshadowed by concerns for our safety and the possibility of another national terrorist attack. There were far more important things to worry about.
However, as the days passed, post-September 11 decisions were seen in a more objective light. Many Americans began to find fault with the Patriot Act, and at Stuyvesant it became apparent that the ID card policies designed to protect us were flawed and ineffectual. Any person passing for a student had only to make up an ID number and write it at the security desk before entering to gain access to the school. Students quickly picked up on this compromised system, and in the weeks after returning from Brooklyn Tech our school was littered with reports of practical jokers covering their ID photos with pictures of Bart Simpson or Osama Bin Laden, and getting away with it. It was only later that a computer was placed at the second floor security desk, patching up some of the holes in the system.
While the policy is now partially effective, it has become outdated. The concern around which it was originally based—school safety from terrorist attacks—is no longer so great an issue. Two years after the September 11 attacks, which did not target but merely affected Stuyesant, there does not seem to be a terrorist threat to our school.
The lasting consequences of a now inessential policy have recently been felt as more than just mere nuisances. A stipulation was recently added that obligates students missing their ID card for three days in a row, to a week of community service.
Although community service is a more constructive punishment than detention or other typical reprecussions, the stipulation has yet to be communicated to the Stuyvesant community. Students do not know the details of the recently updated policy, and may still regard it with a lax attitude because of its ineffectual history. As community service is not a standard punishment, and as previous neglect of the ID policy went mostly unnoticed by the administration, the new stipulation should be made public and brought to students’ attention.