School…prison…is it the same concept?

Anya Madlangbayan

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Barren, brick walls, a sea of people shuffling to and fro, to sit in rooms for an hour, following the same schedule for an entire year. Aside from special days like pep rallies and assemblies, nothing changes. School may not be the same thing as a prison, but to some students, the similarities are striking.

“I guess it’s kind of like jail,” said freshman Derek Bitun. “There’s a specific amount of time you have to spend socializing or working, and there’s people supervising you everywhere – like hall monitors or security guards…it is actually kind of like a jail!”

“You have certain set time to work in class, and certain set times to relax and interact with others,” said Bitun. Rigid schedules dictate when to eat, when to work, and when to exercise. Doing things outside of the allotted time is not allowed without a pass if it means the students will be tardy or late.

“It feels like you’re kind of trapped in a system,” said senior Sydney Rowe. “The dress code kind of encourages conformity, too.”

Restrictions in dress code also cause students to feel that school resembles a prison where self-expression is generally stifled.

According to the handbook, “students have no expectation of privacy in their lockers,” and “speech that is disruptive or is likely to be disruptive to the educational process” may be regulated by the administration. This regulation of self-expression, and the fact that students can have their lockers searched if the suspicion arises, gives school a more prison-esque feel.

“I don’t think that school is a prison, but I think it depends on the kind of environment you’re fostering,” said junior Mary Veliyathukudy. Many students also agree that the school environment doesn’t resemble a prison.

When compared to prisons, schools are much more lenient. Students can wear what they want (within reason), have free periods, and take electives. There are many solutions available to make schools more pro- learning and more relaxed.

“Make more things that the students would want to do,” said Valiyathkudy. In addition to this, students like Rowe or Bitun would suggest more late starts.

It may be difficult to put changes in place to make the school environment feel more like a place of learning, but doing so may help to alleviate the stress of school to promote learning.

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School…prison…is it the same concept?