Freshmen leaving campus at lunch tests administration policy

Forty-one percent of freshmen report having already been off campus at lunch during the 2018-2019 school year, according to a survey conducted by the Pony Express. This statistic raises some questions, such as what the administration is doing to enforce the rule prohibiting freshmen from leaving campus, why freshmen are leaving, and what the consequences will involve.

For years, the rule has been in full force, and the high percentage of freshmen breaking it this year suggests that it might be time to change the policy. The administration originally created the rule to promote safety among underclassmen. However, the vast majority of freshmen leaving campus are only walking a couple of blocks to the Harvest Market shopping area to purchase lunch.

“We want to make sure that kids are safe, but if kids are going down there because they want a slice of Mary’s pizza, I would be a hypocrite to say they are wrong,” Vice Principal Mike Casper said.

One hundred percent of surveyed freshmen that have left campus reported doing so in order to buy food. Despite his understanding towards students, Casper and the rest of the administration still plan to enforce the rule.

On September 10, 2018 in the weekly newsletter, the Mustang Roundup, Principal Mark Sims included a section regarding the rule about freshmen leaving campus, “Staff and parents: Please remind freshmen students that they are not allowed to leave campus during lunch with the exception of Fridays when they have pizza across the street.”

Regardless, none of the freshmen said that they were caught, and only 51 percent of freshmen reported being aware that there are consequences for being found going off campus.

This year, the prohibition of freshmen leaving campus will remain unchanged. Despite this, Casper said that he thinks it is time to change things up.

“I personally don’t like the policy, but I’m going to stick with it until there is a more collaborative approach to make a change,” Casper said.

The statistics also draw attention to why students want to go off campus in the first place. “I go off campus because the cafeteria is bad, and I’m too lazy to bring my own food,” an anonymous freshman said.

Students go off campus for the sole purpose of purchasing food, but 53 percent of students said that if there were more on-campus activities at lunch, they would be more interested in staying.

“Dr. Sims has brought great perspective from when he was a principal in L.A. at lunchtime, and his kind of perspective is ‘let’s give kids a reason to want to stay here at lunch,’ and I one hundred and ten percent agree with that,” Casper said. “But we haven’t really sat down as an admin team or [Instructional Leadership Team] and talked about that, and we need to.”