New rules introduced to McLean are overly restrictive

Administration’s blanket policies are repressive to a rule-following majority

New policies introduced to McLean High School at the start of 2023 have caused student controversy and uproar. Principal Ellen Reilly mandated restrictive rules in hopes of a fresh start to the year.

The new policy includes making sanitary products less accessible in the women’s restrooms, taking away the early release for seniors, making students check into the front office when tardy instead of heading straight to class, limiting bathroom passes and confining students to their assigned classes during Highlander Time.

Reilly announced this as a punishment for students’ behavior over the course of this school year and declared that these rules were to ensure that 2023 would be started off right. However, these new policies are not securing a more productive student environment but instead taking away students’ fundamental rights.

Reilly’s blanket policy of taking away rights for students is ineffective, as the majority of students are being punished for a rebellious minority. Moreover, restricting students at a young-adult level does not build responsibility.

“My first thoughts were really just confusion as to why the administration would handle the issue of tardiness in that way,” sophomore Kailyn Kim said. “Taking away the ability to go use the restroom is only going to hinder the students who didn’t skip in the first place. Even then those who do ‘skip’ or use the restroom early or late in class are only going to miss more dense lecturing periods in class because they’re only permitted to go in the middle of class.”

Primarily, Reilly’s policies restricting bathroom use are counterintuitive and oppressive. The restrictions, which were initially made as a punishment for being tardy to class, include disallowing bathroom use during Highlander Time, the first 10 minutes of class, the last 10 minutes of class, and a lack of period products in most bathrooms. These punishments that Reilly instated are not truly resolving the problems that McLean faces, only inconveniencing the students who are trying to get the most out of their school day.

“The biggest concern I heard about the policies was about the collective punishment method they are using,” said Committee on Raising Student Voices (CORSV) council head Libby Salopek. “Also, many students were shocked at the feminine product condensation to two bathrooms in rather than all.”

Such restrictions deprive students of their basic rights. Accounting for the time limits in which hall passes can be distributed, students are confined to over two straight hours of no bathroom use on silver days. Depriving students of basic bodily functions is appalling and dehumanizing. Although it is imperative that the student body respect its custodians and the facilities students are given, it is also important that students be treated humanely. Being tardy to class should not result in the deprivation of a human right or the denial of a basic feminine need.

Moreover, in an environment that claims to preach interactive learning and providing students with resources to excel academically, McLean cannot continue to restrict its students during the limited time that they have alone with their teachers. Highlander Time is used by many students in order to ask questions on topics that are confusing and work through problems with teachers, and when students are asked to stay in classrooms which they do not need to work in, their productivity stops and the main idea behind Highlander Time is rendered ineffective.

“In some ways I think the Highlander Time movement rule is somewhat detrimental to students, although I understand that Dr. Reilly’s goal with it is to increase attendance,” Salopek said. “Since we are nearing the end of the semester, it can be really crucial for students to be able to see their other teachers, and the long [Highlander Time] cycle doesn’t make it possible to have every single teacher every week.”

The policies being introduced have been refined to take more student opinions into account after meeting with the CORSV, but these punishments for the entire student body are still unfair to those who have not been breaking the rules but are nevertheless experiencing the consequences.

“As a council head, I admit that I completely understood Dr. Reilly’s frustration at McLean’s tardiness and absence problem,” Salopek said. “[However,] I’m not sure the resolution was gone about in the most effective way.”

While the CORSV did work with Reilly on easing the punishments, they were not able to bring these punishments down to a reasonable amount for the majority of students. Reilly should amend the punishments further if she plans to enforce them across the entire population of McLean, or she should find a way to restrict students who are breaking the rules in the first place.

Do you believe the new policies are too restrictive?


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