Westwood Horizon

OPINION: School Survival Bestiary: The Student

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The recent enforcement of the requirement of hall passes for bathroom breaks has brought to my attention the increase in the number of students roaming the halls during classes in search of shelter and food. While reports of these students attacking others are rare, they have been on the rise, with some students forming pairs or even packs to travel together. Because of the extreme danger students are known to present, I’ve compiled a brief list of survival tips that should help you stay safe in environments with these dangerous creatures.

  • Whenever possible, keep your distance and avoid eye contact. Standing too close is often perceived as aggression, or, worse yet, an attempt to interact.
  • Never underestimate a student, no matter its size, height, weight, or any other aspects of appearance. All of them are potential threats to your ego.
  • Stand tall to avoid looking like an easy target. Do not, however, hold open your jacket or make any unnecessary noise, as both can and will attract attention, rather than scaring off potential threats.
  • Know which areas are most heavily frequented by students: The library patio, the cafeteria, the bathrooms. If you think it’s a good place to hide, someone else does, too — and students aren’t very good at sharing.
  • In between passing periods, students are at their most numerous, but they’re not interested in harming you. Simply join the crowd and keep moving. Do not attempt to push against the crowds — even in the relatively passive state students enter during passing periods, getting pushed back or even trampled remains a likely outcome of a physical altercation.
  • Never, under any circumstances, attempt to separate a student from its wallet, cell phone, laptop computer, portable gaming device, textbook, homework, or lunch. Students have been known to attack suddenly and viciously to protect their valuables. If you do require a cell phone, approach in a non-threatening manner and ask kindly, remaining calm if the student refuses. Do not ask for food from a student unless you are familiar with it. A stranger introducing themselves by demanding one’s possessions almost always leaves a poor first impression in the student’s memory: and first impressions can make all the difference in the event that you need help.
  • On a similar note to the above, do not interrupt a student while it is feeding, talking, studying, gaming, or otherwise occupied. Animals intensely dislike being interrupted, especially if they are eating.
  • If a teacher is present, most students will be hesitant to attack, knowing that the teacher will intervene. However, any actions you take in the presence of a teacher may provoke it rather than just the student, so be careful.
  • In the event that you provoke a student into attacking, run away and try to move around a corner or wall to break the student’s line of sight. Remember to look ahead of you while attempting your escape. Escaping from a student only to run into a wall, a door, another student, or worse yet, a teacher, is not an ideal situation.
  • While entering a busy classroom seems like it should safeguard you from attack, the class’s teacher won’t take kindly to your interrupting its class, and neither will some of the students.
  • Attempting to duck into an empty classroom to hide is also inadvisable: oftentimes the only exit to a classroom is its entrance, meaning that you may find you’ve cornered yourself.
  • Should you ever be unable to escape, apologizing, while unlikely to work, may be worth attempting. Remember not to insult the student as you are apologizing to it. Apologizing immediately after you provoke the student is also a method of preventing attack, but take care not to provoke the student again after you apologize – every student’s patience has its limits.
  • Remember that most students will not physically assault you, and that most who do will likely not waste their energy on a target that keeps running away. As for non-physical attacks, keep your temper and make return insults regarding academic issues such as college applications, career prospects, class rank, exemptions, and GPA.
  • Do not attempt to play dead: Students are too intelligent to be fooled by this trick and will only insult you more heavily. Additionally, the act of lying down in a hallway will easily catch the eye of a teacher, who is unlikely to accept any explanations you might have.  

While the passes should be able to provide some modicum of safety against the increasing numbers of wandering students, this list of tips will prove useful in the event that the piece of plastic is not enough. Stay tuned for my upcoming editions of School Survival Bestiary, which includes articles on the Officer, Coach, Counselor, and, the most dangerous of them all, the Teacher.

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