The Open Door Café INCIDENT | What Happened?

In early 2019, students in the Middle School were barred from the Open Door Café and the Main Building front hall. Many middle schoolers were mad at the decision by Germantown Friends School faculty, although the decision did help solve the problems that were happening in the café and front hall. Many Middle Schoolers started asking the question, “What happened? What caused the ban?”

We decided to interview Germantown Friends faculty who were crucial in the decision. We interviewed Sean Hamer, the principal of the Middle School, Neeta, who sits at the front desk in the Main Hall, and Ashley, manager and barista at the Open Door Café. They all had similar opinions on the issue, and some of them didn’t have a voice in the decision. We asked other middle schoolers if they wanted to be interviewed, but they declined. We asked everyone the same questions.

What were middle schoolers doing in the Front Hall and Open Door Café [that prompted the ban]? Please give examples:

“Middle Schoolers were making a tremendous noise, playing and joking in the Open Door and the Front Hall. They were very disruptive and bothering people who were working in the Open Door Café and the Front Hall. Middle schoolers were also doing disgusting things and thinking it is funny.”

Do you think the ban was a good response?

“The ban worked. The middle schoolers became much more aware of other people.”

How are middle schoolers acting now, compared to in the months before the ban?

“They are aware of their surroundings, and they are aware of people working around the Front Hall. They are also much more respectful. It is good that there are teachers in the Front Hall and Open Door Café.”

Do you have other ideas for ways to improve the experience in the Front Hall?

“I don’t want to ban kids from the Front Hall. Reiterating to the kids that people are working around the Front Hall and Open Door Café. The way people act represents our school. What was happening doesn’t represent our school.”

Middle School students were very disrespectful. After a ban from the Front Hall and Open Door Café, we have turned ourselves around and are now much more respectful than before. Now, students are quiet when passing through the Front Hall, and they are making the Open Door Café a fun place.

Supporting Author: Julian Zhao

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