Closing the flag and bell lobbies is reasonable


Varshini Ramanathan

WA's bell lobby.

Varshini Ramanathan, Co-Managing Editor

One of my most enduring memories of lunch in freshman and sophomore year is the sinking feeling of walking into the cafeteria with my friends two minutes late and finding that there was nowhere to sit. I remember dragging chairs from far corners of the room and jostling for a place with ten other kids from three different friend groups, none of whom were remotely interested in talking to one another but had no other choice but to sit together.

With the option to sit in the flag and bell lobbies this school year, those experiences faded into something like a bad dream. There were various tables available no matter when I came to lunch. I could take my time going to my locker and talking to friends during passing time. And if I needed a break from the chaos of the cafeteria, I could always sit in the bell lobby and eat in peace.

However, recently, administration closed off the flag and bell lobbies for lunch because of repeated instances of students leaving trash in both areas. Around six weeks ago, Principal Jim Antonelli warned the students to keep the areas clean, but found that it had little effect.

Antonelli explained that the day before the flag and bell lobbies were closed, he found food and containers scattered in both areas as well as spilled ketchup. As such, he closed them until further notice a few days ago, though he plans to reopen them in the future.

I miss the convenience of having the flag and bell lobbies open and I wish they had never been closed off. However, seeing that letting students eat outside the cafeteria was a risk for administration and a privilege for us, I believe it is reasonable that they were closed after this situation occurred.

Even if it stings to have this privilege revoked, there is plenty of reason for why it was done — it wasn’t just a pointless punishment meant to make us toe the line. Closing off the flag and bell lobbies was simply a decision that maintained the cleanliness of the school without putting the staff to extra work.

Many students believe that only those who were making the mess should be penalized, and that the rest of the student body should be allowed to continue eating where they want.

I understand that it’s only a fraction of the student body who are causing trouble for the rest of us, and that closing the flag and bell lobbies feels like the grown-up equivalent of keeping a classroom of kindergartners inside for recess because one kid made a scene. It seems only fair that the students who did not pick up after themselves are the only ones who should be restricted to the cafeteria.

However, the point isn’t to punish the students, it’s to stop the mess — and it’s very difficult to know exactly who will cause trouble and who will pick up after themselves. Even if supervising teachers wrote down the misbehaving students’ names, how would other teachers know which ones they are by sight? Why would they jump through hoops to keep students that should already know how to act in check? As it is, I often see deans and custodians cleaning up tables in the cafeteria. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to do this in the flag and bell lobbies as well.

Rather than be resentful towards the school for revoking this privilege, we should understand where they’re coming from. I’m sure we all enjoy having a clean and respectable school, so it is only fair to do our part to keep it that way.