Don’t Take Away the One Place That’s Our Own

The sophomore bar is meant to be a place of our own. So why have we been banned from it?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As a freshman, I’d walk past the sophomore bar every day and look forward to having a special place to spend my free periods come next September. So after months of yearning on the first day of sophomore year, my friends and I finally met up there. It didn’t disappoint; having a place designated just for us, where we could socialize and do homework together, was great. Throughout the first semester of this year, the sophomore bar became our go-to place to meet up after school and during science frees—a miniature home away from home.

So naturally, it came as a shock when an administrator approached the bar a few weeks ago, told us that we weren’t allowed to be there, and evicted us—effective immediately.

Over the course of the past month, the sophomores who frequent the bar, myself included, have been engaged in something of a silent battle against the administration. We sit there every day, socializing or working, knowing that more often than not, we’ll be asked to leave before the period is over. Whenever we hear the sound of an adjacent door opening, we turn toward it, anticipating a teacher, administrator, or school safety officer who will inevitably stride over to the bar and ask us to leave.

If I’m being honest, I was infuriated the first time this happened—I had done my time as a “lowly freshman,” and I felt I deserved to enjoy the sophomore bar. It didn’t help that the only reason we were given for being kicked off the bar was that it was “policy,” because that line of reasoning doesn’t stand against further scrutiny. The Hallway Code of Conduct dictates that students are allowed to spend their free periods in the first and second-floor hallways. But the administrator didn’t have a problem with us sitting anywhere else on the sixth floor—just not in the sophomore bar. So if the Hallway Code of Conduct wasn’t the reason why we couldn’t sit in the bar, what was?

The answer came on Monday, February 10 during third period when a teacher came up to the bar with a chair, some papers, and a roll of tape in hand. She set the chair down, climbed onto it, and began taping the papers to the wall, each with two or three letters. It soon became clear that they spelled out “NO LOITERING” in huge font. She then forced us to leave.

I had been sitting there with my friend, working on homework. I have second and third periods free, so I was trying to make the most of that time by being productive and doing my work in advance. Is that “LOITERING”?

She had asked us to leave in a tone ridden with irritation. She said we were being so loud that she wasn’t able to concentrate on grading.

It made sense, then. The problem was that the students at the bar were too loud.

If that’s the case, I fully understand where that teacher was coming from. She had a right to be annoyed, but I wasn’t making any noise, apart from the quiet clacking of my keyboard. In fact, the disruptive noise of the other students had been bothering me as well. What I didn’t understand or agree with was the fact that I was being punished for something I didn’t do.

I would even argue that disallowing any and all students from being in the sophomore bar falls under the umbrella of collective punishment—something that has been proven ineffective time and time again. On top of being fundamentally unjust, rather than teaching the intended message—in this case, that it is unacceptable to be loud enough to cause disruption in a place of learning—it furthers resentment, rather than understanding, of authority.

I also recognize that this isn’t the only reason students have been disallowed from spending free time in the sophomore bar. I have heard various administrators cite safety reasons: there are no safety officers who regularly man the upper floors, so it’s unsafe for large groups of students to congregate. However, as previously mentioned, the administrators seem to have no problem with us sitting together on other parts of the sixth floor. In one case, I was forced to move from the bar to a space directly opposite it. While I’m not trying to undermine the importance of school safety, this line of reasoning does not seem to stand either.

As of Friday, February 14, the “NO LOITERING” sign is still up, and students are still not allowed in the sophomore bar, aside from those who must retrieve items from their lockers located there.

My proposal to the administration is this: a compromise. For our part, the sophomores will speak at a reasonably low volume and not engage in horseplay in the sophomore bar. In exchange, the administration will allow us to spend our free periods there. It is the one place in the building that is truly our own, and all we want is to have it back. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.