Do Better, Stuyvesant

Issue 7, Volume 113

By The Editorial Board 

In the past two months, Stuyvesant High School received two anonymous threats. Last month, students had to exit the building and stay outside for nearly two periods, in 40 degree weather and amid general chaos. Despite this, students and teachers alike were left clueless about what was happening, receiving only a handful of vague e-mails afterwards mentioning a “potential threat” without many other details. In our Issue 5 Staff Editorial, we addressed concerns over the lack of transparency among administrators. Recent developments have shown that Stuyvesant’s administration continues to keep students in the dark.

A few weeks ago, crowds of Stuyvesant members were stunned to discover that they could not return into the building after 4 p.m. The old rule wasn’t enforced until then, and no warning or announcement had been given beforehand. This had immediate repercussions: students who participated in afterschool activities like PSAL sports or robotics faced being locked out, even without their belongings. Some could have a teacher inside arbitrarily vouch for them, but students who just returned for abandoned possessions would have no such luck.

A number of other changes by the administration have not been clearly communicated to students, leading to confusion and discontent. Regarding the 4 p.m. policy, the decision was made without the consultation of the Student Union (SU) or student body representatives, and students were not informed of this policy change beforehand. Similarly, a new rule requiring users to sign in to the computers at the print stations has led to long lines of frustrated students unaware of the policy, especially for those who do not know their account information. During the blood drive on November 30, the administration didn’t communicate that lockers in the area would be unavailable, which burdened students who had previously left items in those lockers. In addition, the COVID absence form is not accessible and students frequently receive conflicting information about the process to leave early.

It is worth noting that in the past few days, the Stuyvesant administration has made attempts to reach out to students on the importance of safety precautions. For example, on December 6, Stuyvesant administered a homeroom schedule so that teachers could explain the importance of and differences in evacuation and lockdown procedures. Future efforts such as this are critical, as they allow students to learn about safety rules in a dedicated and focused environment.

There are several ways to solve these problems. First is to send out separate e-mails for important announcements: the majority of students were unaware of the 4 p.m. policy because it was buried in the Weekly Updates among excess information. If there is a significant change to policies affecting students, it should be put into the main body of the Weekly Update e-mail, where it can be found more easily. The administration could also post updates via social media. Stuyvesant’s Instagram and Facebook accounts are currently used more for showcasing certain aspects of the school, such as the library or different clubs. Using those accounts to inform students of important updates would help spread the knowledge faster through the student body. Finally, another method of communication could be the school announcements. While some students don’t read the e-mails sent by administration or the SU, the school announcements are heard in every classroom and are ideal for informing the student body of necessary information, such as the fact that the blood drive would take place on the first floor and take away student access to first floor lockers. Though many teachers and students often brush off the morning announcements, it is necessary that class time be devoted to actively listening to them, especially if they contain important school changes.

The Stuyvesant administration is responsible for communicating important information to the student body, but students should also take a proactive effort to stay updated. This way, they can advocate for changes they want the administration to make or propose amendments to existing policies. Whether it be reading or skimming through the weekly updates, paying attention to signage around the school, or even reading The Spectator, it is important to access information that is already available. However, there is only so much the Stuyvesant body can do if information continues to be scattered and unavailable, frustrating the lives of already-busy students. Students should not only have a voice when these policies are being developed and approved, but should also be aware of these changes so they can plan accordingly without being penalized. If the administration truly wants to commit to safety and organization, they cannot be opaque with the students they aim to benefit. We urge the administration to take meaningful strides to make communication constant, accessible, and truthful.