One of the biggest changes brought in by Sean Hamer, the new Head of the Middle School, has been the new—and stricter—cell phone policy, which has not been well-received by many students.
In years past, the rule has been that phones must be not used during classes, and personal calls must be made in the Middle School office or in the presence of a teacher. However, that rule was created when cell phone ownership in middle school was sporadic, and even if a student owned a cell phone, it was usually a flip phone or did not have internet capabilities. The rule has been changed in light of the rise of the smartphone era where many middle schoolers own smartphones. The rule now is that phones are not allowed to be on inside any Middle School building, even before school activities. All cell phones must be off and in a pocket or bag.
So, do these rules communicate a mistrust of students by faculty and administrators? Honestly, probably not. They show more of a lack of policy regarding the change in technology in the last few years, and the change is to fill that. It is important to at least have some policy on the matter, which is a very important one.
The change has been rather controversial for many reasons, one of which is that despite an assembly explaining it, the rules have still been rather unclear, and the enforcement inconsistent. Middle School principal Sean Hamer, the creator of the new policy, says that the policy has been clearly explained and that it is the teachers’ responsibility to enforce it fairly and consistently.
Many middle schoolers can attest to the fact that the policy has not been communicated very clearly, with rumors about every aspect of the policy running rampant in the halls of the Sharpless, including a rumors that if your phone got confiscated, a parent had to pick it up from the principal’s office, and that Hamer would do a personal search of homerooms for rule-breakers.
According to Hamer, parents do not need to come get their child’s cell phone; students can retrieve their phones from Saku at the end of the day. Hamer states, “I’ve had numerous students where I’ve had to confiscate their phones. And they would have to come and retrieve it from the office at the end of the day.”
While the change, for many, seemed unneeded, Hamer says, “I made the changes because the policy of using [phones] in the building until 8:10 was unenforceable.”
The new restrictions on cell phones have also been extended to school dances. Now, you are not allowed to use your phone within the dance. The policy is to prevent students from taking pictures of other students and putting them on the internet. Under the new policy, a student wanting to be picked up early would need to leave the dance and go outside in order to text his or her parents.
So, do these rules communicate a mistrust of students by faculty and administrators?