New year, new rules

By Caroline Ingold & Callie Whiteman
editor-in-chief & insight

For the first time this year, the DHS administration has implemented a new policy regarding purses. The new rule restricts any kind of bag from being brought into classrooms. However, administrators have attempted to compensate for this restriction by allowing students to carry pencil cases to class. Principal Pam Kastl believes there are other factors which make purses unnecessary.

“[Students] can go to their lockers, they can ask teachers to go to their lockers,” Kastl said. “We have passing time, which we feel is a sufficient amount of time to use the restrooms.”

Kastl also encourages students to use lockers to store personal items.

“We provide lockers for every single student in the building, we’d like them to use those lockers to be a safe place for students to keep things,” she said. “We’ve tried to accommodate the students in every way we can.”

The new policy came about after Kastl received feedback from teachers and students wondering why purses were allowed in classrooms when backpacks were not.

“It’s pretty hard to make a case for why it’s okay to bring a purse in, but not okay to bring a backpack,” she said.

Complaints from male DHS students about not being able to carry a bag when girls could carry a purse also contributed to the policy.

“I think if there was enough feeling from the male gender, then I think that’s fair,” English teacher Sarah Hechlik said. “But if they’re just doing it on a couple loud voices, then I don’t think it’s fair.”

Administrators claim that security was the main reason for restricting all bags, especially with increasing class sizes.

“You have to understand, we have classes with over 30 students,” Kastl said. “The whole idea behind not bringing backpacks is safety and security.”

Although the administration has been “pretty happy” with the effects of banning purses, many female students do not feel the same way. Juniors Tiffany Zhang and Hannah Fetner were two such students. They chose to write Kastl to vocalize their negative opinion about the new policy. Their email outlined their arguments for why purses should be allowed in class. Included in the email was a list of around 300 names, all supporting the position of Zhang and Fetner.

The email was disregarded by administrators after they discovered that many of the names listed were people who had graduated or never attended DHS.

“That hurts the credibility of the letter,” assistant principal Ted Davis said.

However, Fetner maintains the validity of the arguments in the email, and feels “disrespected” after receiving no formal reply.

“I think it’s ridiculous to completely ban purses, they don’t need to go from one extreme to the other,” Fetner said. “They need to set a size restriction or something like that.”

In the email addressed to Kastl, Zhang and Fetner argued that male students were not being restricted any more than female students; only uncontrollable social norms stopped them from carrying bags to class. They also claim that girls specifically need to be able to carry certain products with them at all times, and do not have large enough pockets to do so, unlike boys.

Senior Morgan Wynne agrees that there are certain circumstances that make it necessary for girls to carry purses.

“I think there are reasons why girls specifically need a purse; I have mine everywhere I go,” she said. “I just need it.”

Kastl says the latter issue was discussed by administrators when evaluating the new policy.

“We did look at this issue of [boys’ pockets being bigger than girls’],” she said. “The solution we came up with was pencil boxes.”

Although the new rule has raised controversy among students, there has been much confusion of what the actual policy implies.

“I think the first day when I talked about it, a lot of students didn’t even know about it,” Hechlik said. “I don’t think it was well communicated to the students what the expectations were.”

The policy directly bans all bags in classrooms, but many students have been under the impression that the rule only mandated a size restriction.

“On Facebook and other places it seemed like there was a compromise, where [a purse] was allowed as long as it wasn’t big enough to carry books in,” Wynne said.

The administration denies that the restrictions are limited to size.

“We haven’t talked anything about size,” Davis said. “If it has a strap or a handle, that’s what I would use as the definition of a purse.”

While the administration is vehement that no bags are allowed, some are able to get away with carrying a purse to class.

“I guess if it’s a rule it’s not being very strictly enforced,” Wynne said. “It really depends on the teacher.”

Hechlik agrees that there have been some discrepancies between teachers who enforce the rule.

“Because there’s so many daily things you have to pay attention to, I’m not going to walk up and down the aisle checking for bags,” she said. “But that’s been kind of awkward to be the teacher who enforces it, and have other teachers not.”

Administrators have gone back and reviewed the rule, along with a group consisting of multiple DHS teachers as well as district coordinators. They have concluded that the rule is fair, and will remain in place.

“I’m very appreciative that everyone is willing to give it a try, and so far we seem to be pretty happy with it,” Kastl said.

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