Each year administrators create new policies or modify old ones. Sometimes they explain to students the necessity of a policy; for example, the administration justified the end to throwing baby powder at the kickoff of football games with legitimate health and safety concerns. It has failed to do so extensively with other recent issues, most notably the new ID sweeps and changes to the Homecoming dance.
With the baby powder, the administration told students about potential health risks and safety issues. It also supplied an alternative: thousands of free confetti poppers to replace the banned substance. Even if students did not agree with the change, the administration made a valid argument with several reasons to support the decision and communicated their reasoning with the students. While the execution of this policy change should be duly lauded, other policies were not as carefully executed.
Last year, new rules about ID cards were announced but never really enforced. This year, according to the Pathways, every student must always have his or her current year ID and show it to any staff member who asks to see it. The Pathways also states, “Failure of a student to properly identify themselves to any staff member when requested to do so may result in disciplinary action.” In addition, Assistant Principal John Newton has recently warned students to be prepared for future ID sweeps later in the year. All these changes leave students asking, “Why now?”
In the past, carrying an ID at all times was unnecessary. Very few students can say they have been asked to show their hall passes, let alone their ID cards, in the hallways. Students can buy their lunch and check out items from the media center without them, but now they have to carry an ID with them because of some reason only the administration seems to know. The administration must have some rationale, but if administrators can take the time to publicize the approaching ID sweeps, they can take the time to give a quick, yet not vague, explanation.
When asked to explain the reasoning behind the ID checks, Principal John Williams said it has always been a policy, but now he and the rest of the administration want to enforce it better. This answer doesn’t explain the reasoning behind the policy’s implementation or why implementing this system is important now. Students deserve more than obscure reasons such as “safety” or “security.” If students were given a valid reason for the changes in policy, it is more likely that they would be willing and ready to follow the guidelines.
This same communication barrier was true for the modifications to the Homecoming dance. The administration mentioned the increase of lighting in the fieldhouse, but many students thought it would be like the Neon Dance. In fact, an article in the Sept. 19 issue of the HiLite includes a quote from Assistant Principal Amy Skeens-Benton confirming that only one set of lights would be left on “just like the winter dance” from last year. However, when students arrived to see many lights on with the stage in the center, many showed their unhappiness by staging a protest.
If the administration had simply explained itself to begin with, students would have been more understanding. Just like the baby-powder incident, not everyone would have been pleased with the changes, but more students would have been satisfied to view the issues from the administrators’ perspective. With the ID sweeps, Homecoming dance and other controversial policies, the administration could prevent complaints with better clarification behind changes in rules. The student body has generally proven itself to be understanding to solid explanation and reasoning. The parental “because I said so” is not effective.
Rather than reporting its reasoning over only the announcements, the administration could email staff members and have teachers explain the changes to students during SRT. Since every student has an SRT class, no one could say the administration didn’t make the effort to respect the students’ desire to know the logic behind certain changes.
The administration could also rely on student leaders, such as members of the Principal’s Advisory Council, GKOMs and members of the House of Representatives, to inform their peers about the issues. This way, the student body would feel included instead of left in the dark and confused.