Wilton High School students petition against new security policy


With the installation of the high school’s new security booth, a new policy went into effect Monday, March 23, prohibiting students from walking outside in between classes from the main building and D-wing.
On Wednesday, March 25, Wilton High School junior Charlie Owens started a change.org petition against the new policy.
“I was inspired to start this position by the public outcry of the student body over these sanctions,” Charlie told The Bulletin.
“You could not walk down the hallway without hearing countless students complaining, so I thought I would try to quantify the number of students opposing the new rule.”
As of Tuesday, March 31, nearly 700 supporters signed the petition.
In the petition, Charlie said the bridge alone is “simply not equipped to handle the heavy traffic of all students traveling between buildings.”
“It was created as a secondary route to the library/D-wing,” he said, “not as a primary passage.”
Since the booth was installed, Charlie told The Bulletin, traffic within the school has been “far more congested,” and moving through school has become “very difficult.”
“The issue occurs as a result of the bottleneck that blocks the staircase in the D-wing leading to the bridge,” he said. “Each time class ends, it takes an extra four to five minutes to go across the bridge.”
While Charlie recognizes that the purpose of the new rule is to “ensure the safety of the school community,” he said it has been “done at the expense of the academic well-being of the student body.”
Charlie said the problems created by the new policy have “really resonated with students because of the manner in which our freedom on campus has been systematically reduced.”
“The main goal of the petition was to initiate dialogue with administration,” said Charlie. “Our intentions were to express our viewpoints on the changes that were implemented.”
Charlie said school administrators have been contacted and are aware of the petition, but “they have not formally addressed the student body regarding the issue.”

Support


Sophomore Nickia Muraskin told The Bulletin she signed the petition because “the structural design of the school makes it necessary to briefly walk outside for efficient movement between buildings.”
“Since the implementation of the rule prohibiting students from walking outside to get to the D-wing, both the bridge and the staircase on the library side of the building have been extremely crowded,” said Nickia.
“The notion that hundreds of students can possibly squeeze through a narrow entrance to the narrowest staircase of the school in a five-minute time span as part of routine travel to class proves incredibly impractical.”
Nickia said she found out about the petition when she got home the day it was created.
“My classmates and I had spent a good portion of the day discussing this topic among ourselves and with our teachers, so I was glad to see that an official forum had been created to express views on the policy,” she told The Bulletin.
Nickia said it also takes “substantially longer to get to class, which proves problematic as going between buildings already took nearly the entire five allotted minutes even before this new policy.”
“Many of my classmates and I have been consistently late or barely on time to class due to the increased bridge traffic and prohibition of walking outside,” said Nickia.
“The time it takes to go between the first floors of the two buildings has increased drastically as well.”
Sophomore Kaitlin McNamara, who also signed the online petition, said, “The school should encourage us to go outside, breath fresh air, soak in some vitamin D.”
Junior Dean Kim said the new security policy and rerouting of students has caused him to be late to class as well, and that “the stairwell to the D-wing and the bridge are not suited for handling all the rerouted traffic between periods.”
“While I do support the idea of keeping students safe at school,” wrote Dean, “the congested stairwell and bridge are causing me to be late to class. This is not appropriate.”

Student government


Seniors Endy Perry and Geoffrey Keating, of Wilton High School’s student body government, presented some of the issues students have with the policy during the Board of Education’s March 26 meeting.
“We understand that student safety is No. 1 and we appreciate you for valuing that,” Endy said to the board, “but the issue, from a communication standpoint, [was] that notice about the booth being put in was given right at the middle of a marking period — the timing was not good.”
Endy said the message was delivered by administrators, who “didn’t really have that much of a say in the matter,” and without much explanation, which has led many students to believe administrators are implementing an unfair rule.
According to Geoffrey, some students not only believe an explanation is needed, but compensation as well, such as letting students “sit out and eat behind the school during lunch.”
Endy said students who take part in Senior Privilege, which allows seniors to leave campus during a free period, have encountered issues since the booth’s installation.
“With the new security rule, students check in when they come back in. My friend said that they had a free period in the middle of the day and went out to their car to get their project for their next class,” said Endy.
“When they came back in, their name was checked at the door and they received a detention for going out to their car.”
Endy and Geoffrey said they believe students would be a bit more open to the new policy if they had an understanding of why it is in place.
“Right now, it feels like we’re being more and more closed in and locked up,” said Geoffrey.

Suggestions


Charlie and supporters of the petition suggested a number of solutions for the problems caused by the high school’s new policy.
To “alleviate the issue and ensure the safety of the school community,” Charlie suggested having the campus supervisors — who are “currently guarding the entrances to the school” — supervise students as they walk outside between the two buildings.
“We feel that using this method would enable campus security to monitor students while still enabling us to move more freely within the school buildings,” he said.
Nickia said that if the school is “so concerned with security that they will not even allow students a breath of fresh air,” then an alternate route for travel between buildings should be built.
Dean suggested allowing students to pass under the bridge between classes and then locking the main door entrance afterward. “The D-wing door is already locked,” he said, “and nobody will be there to open the door during class.”