Student Opinion on Privilege

Usually, high school is an adjustment for one group of students: the freshman. Furthermore, the adjustment period is usually a few weeks to a semester. However, I think we can all agree that this school year has been one nonstop adjustment for all students and staff, and it has made a clear impact on this school and its residents. The main reason I wanted to write this article was that I felt there were valid concerns from the students that weren’t being acknowledged. However, as I gathered information from both sides of the spectrum, I realized there’s just one thing stopping us from living out our mutualistic potential: miscommunication.

Although sometimes it can feel like our student body doesn’t really care about anything, it’s apparent that most students feel strongly about the following issues. We feel robbed of privilege, unheard by our administration, and discouraged by the school culture. It’s not hard to find a student with an opinion, according to the 222 students who voluntarily filled out the survey sent out by the Paw Print on the privilege periods. So, now the question we’re all asking is this: Why is no one listening to our concerns?

First, we need to address the concerns of the student body. According to the survey, 56.1% of students feel that the new privilege system has negatively affected the way they feel about school. This was something that students brought up in the survey sent out by the administration on March 12, and yet, we saw no change; we didn’t even see a response. This probably wasn’t a surprise to the majority of students, because the aforementioned survey also showed that students 57.7% that don’t think the administration listens to the student bodies concerns. In theory, privilege periods sound like a great way to motivate and reward good students. However, in practice, it seems that miscommunication is one of the leading factors for students who would normally be on privilege not making the cut, not slacking. In the real world, people fall behind. In the real world, we won’t get a three-week supervised period to recover from that mistake.

The three-week privilege period is the opposite of a reward system. For all those who are unaware of the way privilege works, if your grade point average is a 3.5 or above, you are considered to be on privilege. This grade point average is collected every three weeks on a Monday. Now, anytime in those three weeks, you can be failing a class and still be on privilege, but as long as you have that 3.5 the Friday before, you’re golden for three whole weeks. When I met with Mr. Chambers, I brought up this inconsistency. He made it clear that he didn’t realize that the issue existed. In terms of privilege, the opposite is also true: a 4.0 student can be failing a class because of one assignment, and not be on privilege. The kicker for most students is that even after you get your grades up, even if it’s the first day of the new period, you can’t change your status. Now, 54.5% of the 222 students that took the survey said that they believe the privilege period is too long.

“When I look at this from a statistical standpoint, it’s essentially half and half. When you’re making a decision about anything…someone’s going to win and someone’s going to lose. It’s hard to make a decision like that when half of the students think the three-weeks are fine,” said Chambers.

However, I believe there are ways to compromise so everyone can win. For example, keeping the three-week period, but allowing students to earn their way back onto privilege after the first week. It would reinforce the reward side of privilege, increase student motivation, and benefit the teachers by giving them longer grading periods.

As Mr. Rykken says, if you don’t know our history, you can’t understand our current politics. 13 years ago, before Mr. Chambers was hired, there was no open campus. There were no open blocks, no online classes, and definitely no leaving for lunch. Through trial and error, and with the help of his fellow staff, the system we have now was created. In addition to that, the privileges we used to have (open blocks, leaving for lunch, and lower GPA requirements), all started with Student Senate. He made it clear that he was interested in making changes, but that in order to do so, we would have to involve the Student Senate and go through the formal process. We as students need to utilize our student government and stick with the issues that we care about.

There are ways both parties can improve their approach. For starters, the students can stop complaining about how much the school sucks and how much they want to drop out (although I will admit I’m guilty of the latter), and start using our Student Senate to make this school a place that we aren’t eager to leave. You heard it here first: the administration is open to change. Now that we know how to go about it, there are no excuses for an inactive Student Senate.

From the administration, the students need more communication. With all due respect, we’re done not understanding the changes that happen around the school. We understand that we aren’t entitled to having open campus, and that having privilege is, in fact, a privilege. However, when changes are made, we just want to know why. Keeping students informed will keep students happy.

These are the changes the student body is calling for, and now you know the processes we need to follow to get them answered. Let’s take the initiative and make this school a place we are proud to attend.