Our upper school students and faculty have come up with a new cellphone policy. I think this charts a great path between regulation and responsibility, responding to technology concerns in a manner that is consistent with other aspects of school culture here.
The upper school student body president sent this message.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. We have decided on a cell phone “policy.” Throughout all of our discussion, the experiments, and the survey, we have always sought a solution that would preserve and improve the social atmosphere on campus. We have also sought a solution that could be accepted by everyone and embraced so as to work not as a top-down rule that required enforcement, but as an organic initiative. We believe in the responsibility of students here and we also believe their opinions matter, because they define the culture of the school. When people wrote in the survey that they need their cell phones during the day in order to manage their calendar and call their parents and organize their carpools, we took that into account. When other people said that they enjoyed the decreased use of cell phones during the first experiment, we listened to that also. Combining all of these sources of input and keeping our original goals in mind, we came up with a policy.
First of all, there can be no use of cell phones in the classroom. This is already an established rule, but must be acknowledged and upheld by students in order to prove our level of responsibility with cell phones and also to prevent cell phones from interfering with the educational productivity of the school. There also are no cell phones allowed at assembly as a common courtesy to the presenter and to everyone present.
Cell phones also cannot be used in the library in accordance with the rules set by the librarians. The library is a place for studying and the potential of cell phones to disturb others is great.
Cell phones cannot be used in the science building either. The science building does not contain any common (lounge) spaces and so students in the science building are in class (where cell phones are not allowed anyway).
These four restrictions are not new, but they must be adhered to in order to preserve our responsibility for our own cell phone use. The new aspect of our policy is to restrict cell phone use at school to practical purposes only. If you need to use a calendar that’s okay, if you need to call your parents that’s also okay, if you need to find a friend who you’re supposed to be meeting with to work on your history project that’s okay too. However, cell phones cannot be used for social purposes. Don’t text your friends who are elsewhere when there are so many interesting, amiable people around who you can talk to face to face. Don’t abandon a conversation with the person in front of you in order to take a phone call from another friend who is elsewhere. And when you are utilizing your cell phone for a practical purpose, use it conscientiously. Don’t text your parents while you’re talking to someone else. Don’t talk on your cell phone in a place where people are trying to study or talk or sleep. Basically, don’t be rude. During the school day you can use your cell phone when you need to, but do so in an unobtrusive way that doesn’t hinder your own or anyone else’s ability to enjoy their surroundings and this school.
If everyone embraces this idea of having a healthy social community, this plan will be a success. So only use your cell phones when you have to (for non-social purposes), use them discreetly, and encourage your friends to do the same.
Thank you in advance, everyone, for making this endeavor a success.