A new cafeteria policy at Northampton High School has left students feeling trapped when lunch is supposed to be their free time. Although the administration has claimed it is necessary for safety reasons, students disagree.
This policy states that students must stay in the cafeteria or the outside seating area during their lunch period. Students cannot eat in the staircase, Guidance, or wander around the halls during this period. Only seniors are allowed to leave campus, but they must get a lunch dismissal form signed by a parent or guardian before leaving. Students who violate any of these rules should expect some form of disciplinary action.
The policy helps teachers supervise students and reduce the amount of activity in the hallways, resulting in less disruption for other classes. It also creates more of a community space for students.
To enforce the policy, an administrator sits at the top of the stairs where students enter the cafeteria, while two administrators circle the hallways during lunch period.
The Devil’s Advocate asked students their opinions on this policy and nearly everyone had a negative response. Sophomore Brynn Goggins said, “I personally do not like this policy, it is very restricting and I almost feel trapped in the lunchroom.”
In years past students could walk around the hallways or eat on the staircase with their friends. Another student explained: “I’m not allowed to walk around as much as I’d like, and since we’re confined to a classroom for most of the day, I would really enjoy being able to freely walk around for lunch if I wanted to.”
Students cannot leave the cafeteria to go back to class until a specific time. This has caused an issue because some students have to walk across the building to get back to their class and they feel rushed, or some students want time to prepare before class begins, and this policy has not allowed them to do that.
Many students disliked being excluded from the decision-making process. “I think the Student Union should’ve had something to do with the making of the policy” said Ariana Clark, junior. Goggins thought the administration, “should’ve asked the student body’s opinion, so if they wanted to make a rule we could come up with a compromise.” Since there was no compromise made, students want to eliminate this policy.
Although students oppose this rule, teachers are very pleased with this new policy. In past years, a group of students walking the halls during lunch period distracted teachers and their students. Some teachers asked the administration last year if they could create a policy like this one to fix a problem with noise.
Science teacher Ms. Dollard said, “There were a lot of students in the hallways and they were very loud.” She said that, because of this new policy, the noise level is a lot better—students do not get distracted as easily as before, and stay focused in class.
During a faculty meeting, administrators asked the faculty if this policy had fixed their previous problems and if they liked it. A majority said they were very happy.
Will this policy stay forever? The administration thinks so.
“It’s a safe policy and it’s good for our students to eat in one space. It’s more hygienic and helps keep our building clean,” said Lori Vaillancourt, associate principal. “I think our students communing in one space is a good practice.”