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The Milton Measure

New Approach to the Existing Sign-out Rules Surprises Students

by Emily Jiang on Friday, September 30th, 2016

Even before Dean of Students Mr. Ruiz’s morning announcement yesterday, many of you had probably heard about the new sign-out restriction. If you’re a day student driver, you had not only heard about it … you were probably mad about it.

According to Mr. Ruiz, the administration changed their “approach” to the rule stated in the 2016-2017 student handbook: “Permission to leave campus during the academic day may be obtained from the deans’ office or class dean.” Now, students are required to remain on campus until 12:45 p.m. or until their last academic class, whichever occurs later. If students leave school before the end of 8th period, they must ask permission. All athletes are required to stay until the end of sports.

Many students assert that this rule was enforced not only without warning, but also with very little spotlight; they discovered the new “approach” only when they went to the administration to inquire about it. These students expressed that they were unaware of any past transgression of this rule or of any clear reason for the new approach whatsoever. “Our privileges last year weren’t abused–they were simply used,” Emily Bell (I) says. “It’s not up to the deans to draw an arbitrary line between the two.”

Mateen Tabatabaei (I) adds that though he doesn’t often leave campus during the day, he feels that “certain privileges and freedoms come with growing older, and having those taken away suddenly and against the unanimous will of students just sets a bad precedent, especially when the way things are doesn’t put anyone at risk. It’s decisions like this which give the administration a bad rep, despite all they do for us.”

According to Mr. Ruiz, however, “Contrary to student opinion, the current sign-out policy is not ‘new.’ In fact, looking at various handbooks, including 2007-2008, 2011-2012, and 2015-2016 (pg.14, pg.17, and pg.17-18 respectively) clearly state the current policy.”

Mr. Ruiz also explains the reasoning for this change in approach: “There was a concern in years past that students were leaving campus and we were unaware. So, we decided to pilot an effort to get all students to seek permission to leave before they left campus.” He specified that the current wording of the student handbook may lead parents to “believe that their child is going to school at 8 a.m. and staying on our campus until their final commitment.” He further emphasizes, “At no point did we change our policy.”

Mr. Heard added to Mr. Ruiz’s statement by illustrating that just as a driver is responsible for the person he or she puts in the passenger seat, the school is accountable for all students when they take the risk of driving off campus.

Even though the policy may not be “new,” what most bothered many students was not the policy itself, but the way the administration enforced it. Sophia Wilson Pelton (I) claims that the administration has “kept students in the dark and acted like they wanted to get us in trouble when we were confused about the rule. [An administrator] stopped my car at 2:45 p.m. on Chapel Hill because I left campus 8th period, and interrogated me, asking me who gave me permission to sign out even though I didn’t know you needed it [during 8th period].” Many students whom we’ve talked to believe that if the administration changes their approach to a policy that is in the student handbook, then students should be notified about the change and the reasoning behind it.

Although the administration has now discussed the enforcement of the rule, some students are still irked about the overall approach the administration took. “[An administrator] made me ‘calculate’ how much money I spend on coffee per month last year to deter me from going out,” Sophia explains.

Even though Mr. Ruiz took responsibility for the administration’s lack of communication when he spoke at morning assembly, the rule that has set a portion of the student body up in arms has been in place for nearly a decade. Not leaving campus may seem like a nuisance for some students; however, the administration has continued to emphasize how the safety of their students remains their priority.

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Posted by Emily Jiang on Sep 30 2016. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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