School rules: oppressive or appropriate?

A look at East’s school rules, whether or not they should be changed

Sometimes after a while, its a good idea to look into whether the rules should be changed for the benefit of the students.

Photo by Ava Bartels

Sometimes after a while, it’s a good idea to look into whether the rules should be changed for the benefit of the students.

Rules, rules, rules. Most students aren’t aware of what they actually say until they’ve been chewed out for breaking them. Yet, from the dress code, to “inappropriate displays of affection” it sounds like the rules are pretty standard. For some people, it proves easy to follow the rules by simply being a mild, cooperative, easygoing student. Nevertheless, these school rules are broken everyday, and it’s time to ask if they should be adjusted.
Now, there are obvious rules that no one should argue with. For example, students participating in plagiarism or cheating should non-negotiably be disciplined. Along with that, bullying at East shouldn’t be overlooked either. And noticeably, there are a plethora of other rules in place as well. The majority of people usually agree with the main bulk of the Student Handbook. Joselin Rodriguez is a junior at East, and in her opinion, the rules are reasonable.
“The rules are fair,” Rodriguez said. “And the dress code is okay, but it needs to be altered in certain situations.”
But it’s impossible to ignore more controversial territories like the phone policies, student car searches, and the dress code. Although annoying, it’s still clear to see why LPS puts such emphasis on keeping phone use at bay. Everybody is a human, and most humans have a phone, and every phone user knows that their phones don’t contribute to productive work sessions. According to the 2020-2021 Student Handbook, teachers and administrators have the right to confiscate cell phones for the entire day. Personally, I’ve never known a lot about what the East administration has the power to do and to take. That’s most likely because of the amazing, merciful teachers at East High School.
“We try to give grace,” principal Sue Cassata said. “If it is a consistent issue, then we will make a plan.”
With the car policies, if student vehicles are parked on the school grounds, they’re able to be freely searched. Again, in the handbook, it reads “…patrols and inspections may be conducted without notice, without student consent, and without a search warrant.” Of course, a search would only be made with legitimate reason and concern. Nevertheless, it would be very invasive to have your car searched based on the suspicions from school officials. Even with car searches being a last resort, the idea that they can be made “without notice” is alarming. At the very least, the school authorities should let the student know that they’re searching their car. Even if the student protests, they’d at least be aware of what was happening.
Now to the dress code. There isn’t one solid opinion on what the dress code should be. Some students think it’s needlessly restrictive, while others think it’s fine the way it is. The Student Handbook describes undeniable dress code regulations, and some that are easy to argue. For instance, students aren’t allowed to wear hats during school hours. There isn’t any explanation, except for that hats are unacceptable! It also says that jewelry that is deemed “unnecessarily distracting” by administration isn’t allowed either. This line leaves the definition of “unnecessarily distracting” open for interpretation. This single line can lead to a myriad of problems between students and teachers. Especially when students break the dress code everyday. Why should some students be forced to take out their earrings, while others can wear strapless tops? Rules like this can lead to some students being forced into awkward, needless situations.
“I personally haven’t had any problems with the dress code,” Rodriguez said. “But they need to make sure no one is dress coded without reason.”
Thankfully, the Student Handbook is updated every year, and Principal Cassata says that a renewing of the dress code is on the way. More importantly however, students need to know what the Handbook says in order for the changes to make a difference in their lives. It’s important for every student to know what’s expected of them, so that they can respect the rules, and help modify the rules that are out of line with East’s core values.