Westwood recently started a new policy of having the cafeteria on lockdown during both lunches. In previous years, there were teachers stationed at the exits to monitor the reasons for students leaving the cafeteria. However, it appears as if the administration believes this method wasn’t enough to prevent students from leaving for inappropriate reasons. Mr. Acosta believes that the cafeteria was blocked last year too with the teachers at the exits but this method simply allows the cafeteria to be closed without having to have a teacher stationed there. Therefore, they replaced the teacher guards with gates across one exit and multiple teachers stationed guarding the second leading to the atrium.
However, these changes are ridiculous. They unreasonably restrict the students inside the cafeteria. Along with them comes the feeling of jail as you can’t leave without a signed teacher note. Many students prefer to eat lunch outside or in the atrium simply for the reason that they feel confined inside the cafeteria. Furthermore, with the removal of C lunch, the cafeterias have become much more crowded, creating a greater feeling of being in a claustrophobic prison. Thankfully, Mr. Acosta is addressing this problem by ordering more tables to go outside in the atrium and expanding the area in which students can eat their lunch. Many students leave the cafeteria for many different reasons, such as to make up a test or a quiz, to have lunch with a teacher, to go in for tutoring, and plenty more. To not allow these students to leave can make them even more stressed which is something Westwood is already known for. Why make these already stressed students more worried about trying to leave for their lunch to go in and study with a teacher? Lunch is a time for students to relax and get their work done if needed. This time shouldn’t be disrupted by this frustrating policy.
“This policy is unfair and frankly, feels as if the teacher’s didn’t trust us in last year’s policy when we used to tell them where we were going when we left,”Anavi Nayak ‘21 said.
This point brings up a very important fact. In earlier years’ policies, the teachers would ask the students where they were going and for what reason. This worked efficiently and effectively as the students were allowed to leave as they needed, either to make up a test or simply go eat lunch with a teacher as many students prefer to do. However, these new rules imply that the administrators and teachers don’t have enough faith in their students to do the right thing and go where they are supposed to. Granted, not every student will follow the rules, but these “jail bars” are insulting and unnecessary to the majority who do. One of the school’s mottos is to respect everyone. This means that students should respect teachers and teachers should also respect students. This policy is the epitome of ignoring this belief. The gates prove that the administrators don’t respect their students and have no faith in them.
Yet not all students believe that this policy is inconvenient. Some students simply don’t leave their lunch while others believe they can easily get a pass from their teacher. Most students consider lunch as solely their social time and don’t do any work during this time. For these students, this policy will not affect them as they choose not to leave their lunch and won’t notice the bars. As the policy has retained one exit to only be guarded by multiple teachers and void of any bars, some students believe that the policy is still respectful as both exits aren’t locked down.
“I don’t mind the new policy. As long as they let you leave with a signed pass from your teacher, I think it can work,” Aditya Jandhyala ‘22 said.
However, others students do need to leave during lunch and getting a signed pass can be difficult at times. Most students schedule lunch meetings with teachers on the day of. Staying after class and writing out a note for your teacher to sign can prove to be quite difficult, especially when your next class is on the other side of the building. Some may say to get the pass before or after school, however, some students find it hard to come to school early or stay after school late to obtain the note, especially for those who ride the bus. Thus, although the new cafeteria lockdown policy may work for some students, the majority are not thrilled.
Personally, I believe that the policy restricts students from leaving to get their work done. In addition, it causes them to believe their teachers don’t respect them as they’ve replaced the original effective policy with one not allowing students to leave without a teachers pass. Overall, this new policy is inappropriate and symbolizes a cafeteria jail.