Editorials and Opinions

Con: …imposes on student freedom

By Naveen Sridhar
Published: September 2009

The stricter cafeteria policy imposes on student freedom

You don’t need to be greeted on the first day of school by massive signs with imperious things to say. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how I started out my first day of school. With a big old sign telling me that I can’t eat in the hallways.

I admit, I don’t really eat lunch at school, so this new policy does not spell out a huge loss for me. But I still feel the pangs of injustice from having one of our rights taken away.

It was nice to know that I could eat in the lobby or by the art rooms if I wanted to, or that I could nibble a Snickers bar in the hallway. Now, I don’t even think I can stuff the second half of my bagel in my mouth as homeroom ends and I head to class (a faculty member might catch me!).

People often point to how disrespectful people were to the hallways when they ate in them; they say that this new policy isolates the mess and noise and misery of the cafeteria to the cafeteria.

But that’s a reason so many people ate outside the cafeteria. It’s loud, germy, and unruly. The hallways were never as bad, so they made an attractive alternative.

People ate in their laps and sat up against the walls, conscious of passersby. I don’t remember that there were ever throngs of people or food blocking my path.

If anything, it was nice to see social creatures being social, to see quirky characters dancing outside the photo room and generally enjoying each other’s company.

That sounds sentimental, but I’m sure that others feel the same way, even if they’re not as overly sentimental as I am. And yeah, the rule doesn’t prevent people from dancing in hallways, but it does crack down on an aspect of student life that really wasn’t a problem.

I wait for a ride after school in the front lobby like a many other students, so I see its state of general cleanliness every day. And the people who eat lunch there during the daytime leave no traces. Maybe a crumb here or there, but no outright messes.

The cafeteria is loud, germy, and unruly. The hallways are an attractive alternative.

That might be the work of the diligent custodians, so more power to them. But if the effect of the students was small enough that it could be handled in a few hours with little issue, was it such a big deal?
It’s important that we acknowledge our status as guests on the property, and that we learn to value our environment. And yeah, that’s cheesy, but it’s fundamentally true.

How can we possibly learn responsibility, though, if we’re not given the option to be irresponsible? Instead of being clean because we’re forced to be, it would be much more profound if we proved’€and I know we can’€that we can keep our environment sanitary.

I always thought it was amazing how clean our hallways were despite our freedom to eat in them. I think if we were given back that freedom we could wow the administration, guests to the school, and anyone paying attention with our responsibility and cleanliness.

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