By Esha Peer ('21)
South Brunswick High School administrators decided to change the policy on identification cards (IDs) this school year. Instead of requiring students to visibly wear their IDs around their neck on a lanyard at all times, the school now only requires students to have their school ID on their persons.
IDs are used to ensure the safety of the students and faculty in the building, which is why the past rule was in place for so long. However, in recent years, this rule became harder to enforce.
“Lots of our decisions are based on conversations with multiple stakeholders,” said principal Mr. Peter Varela,“ If someone was misbehaving, [or] if someone was in our building that didn’t belong in our building, we thought it would be a good idea to say ‘Everyone must wear ID, and if you’re not wearing ID, we would stop you and I would question you if I didn’t know you,’ and/or if we had to have an interaction when it came to sign of disciple or certain behavior, we would be able to collect the ID to be able to process and investigate.”
However, the staff started to notice a growing resentment for the policy among students.
Mr. Varela said the school had been taking rough polls of people around the halls, and noticed the majority of students were not wearing their IDs. Along with this, some students and teachers were arguing for a policy change.
A lot of other schools also had already decided students having an ID on them was more important than wearing it all the time. Both Mr. Varela and Mr. Caravano have noticed the change in interactions between the students and teachers. According to them, it seemed like students were being interrogated by hall monitors.
Instead of students and staff members having positive conversations, students were worried about being caught for not wearing their IDs.
The policy change not only concerns the safety of students but the safety of the school as well. When going outside for fire drills and evacuations, some teachers said that because the ID rule is not being enforced, students are in more danger.
History teacher Mr. Ryan Fisher said, “I worry about the security aspect of it with knowing who’s coming in and out of the building. If they don’t have to wear their IDs they’re more likely to forget their IDs at home, and it can create a difficult situation security-wise.”
A recent issue came up with the new identification policy and visitors. On September 20th, students went into a shelter in place because an alumni walked into school without properly checking in with the front office. Some argue this is because of the new ID policy.
After the incident, Mr. Varela sent out an email stating, “All visitors entering the high school must follow the proper sign in procedures at our front desk.”
It isn’t just teachers who have found some problems with the policy.
Junior Vaishnavi Peyyety said wearing a lanyard was the best way of making sure a student had an ID, but hall monitors and teachers simply weren’t able to enforce this rule.
She said, “I think there are people that roam the halls who don’t have their IDs. They think that it’s something that they can take for granted and they won’t get caught. But if they do get caught they sometimes aren’t able to even produce an ID at that point."
The new ID policy is a step towards making the school environment more positive everyday. It is a small change, but Mr. Varela hopes it will help make students more comfortable with staff. However, the debate still remains: will this new policy put school safety at risk? Only time will tell.