Catch and Release: The state of PDA at DHS

Catch and Release: The state of PDA at DHS

We all know what happens in those dark corners of every hallway. We all see those same couples gazing into each other’s eyes before class, and we’ve all heard rumors about that sketchy hallway in the basement.

Urban Dictionary defines it as any public display of, “Kissing, touching, groping, licking, nuzzling, cuddling, etc.” It can make us cringe, roll our eyes, or even smile a little. Public displays of affection can happen anywhere. No matter what rules there are against it in school, PDA supported by teenage hormones is a practically unstoppable force.

At the beginning of this school year, Leander High School in Illinois introduced a “Catch and Release” policy regarding the public displays of affection at the school. This policy states that students are allowed to hug each other, but only for three seconds. The school also tolerates hand holding but kissing is absolutely unacceptable. Many students at Leander High School think the policy is ridiculous while others don’t think it makes much of a difference at all.

However, here at DHS, our PDA policy is quite the contrary. Actually, while looking through our own student handbook, it quickly became obvious that DHS doesn’t have a specific PDA policy at all (or at least not one that’s easily identifiable). The closest thing we came to was the Student Code of Conduct on page 27 which reads, “All members of the Dartmouth High School community have the responsibility to conduct themselves in a way that demonstrates Respect, Responsibility, Collaboration, and Citizenship in all areas of the school at all times…Students are to respond in a courteous and respectful manner to any request or direction issued by a teacher, staff member or administrator.”

Dean of Students Chris Boyle is the person to speak to regarding student rules and conduct.“It is not really seen as a huge issue,” said Mr. Boyle. “You know it when you see it.”

There are obviously differing intensity levels when it comes to displaying affection, but holding hands is typically seen as a more mild display compared to pinning someone up against a locker and locking lips. There certainly are extremes, but it can be a touchy subject when administrators and teachers have to define that gray area in between.

“There’s a point where it becomes acceptable and where it crosses a line,” said Mr. Boyle. Most students can tolerate PDA as long as it doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable. “What’s most important is that you guys are respecting each other.”

However, it can be a difficult situation to judge because we all have different morals and values regarding respect. Administrators are faced with deciding, on the spot, what is and isn’t okay. Some students may be offended, while others may just be embarrassed to have gotten caught.

We’re lucky to be at a school where for the most part, students are respectful to themselves, administrators, and one another. Although some students have been eyewitness to some sketchy situations.

Rumor has it that there was apparently a scandalous situation in the library this year. Both students were asked to leave as soon as they were caught in the act of whatever it was they were doing. Not only are situations like that inappropriate to take place during school, but they can also make students really uncomfortable when they’re trying to study. “It makes me feel grossed out, “ said sophomore Emily Isaacs. “I can’t look at the people the same way.” Seeing such behavior can certainly serve as a distraction.

“I feel like I’d just be uncomfortable if I was in the library and I saw that kind of behavior,” said freshman Erin Tetrault. Even beyond that comes the question of why would anyone want to do that in school. We’re all teenagers, we all know what happens when we’re alone with our significant others, but let’s keep that behavior out of our hallways.

Now couples, we aren’t telling you guys it’s unacceptable to hold hands in the halls, talk to each other in the hallway, or even hug and kiss goodbye before class. Of course those actions may be frowned upon by the teachers of the baby boomer generation, but most students see that kind of behavior as a sweet gesture. I think we can all agree that we’d rather see couples, same sex or hetero, getting along and holding hands rather than fighting with one another.

“When you’re in a relationship,” said junior Megan Sebastio, “PDA is almost expected.” For the most part though, students are pretty good at judging what’s acceptable and what’s not.

“I see quick kisses in the hallway, and it doesn’t bother me,” said Tetrault. If you’ve been in a relationship for six months or so, it’s not really a huge surprise to others to see quick kissing or hugging between the couple.

“It’s acceptable, but not for 20 minutes,” said Isaacs. A prolonged session of PDA can stir up some discomfort for any witnesses to the situation.

And for the most part, the administration isn’t out to sabotage our relationships for seeing us display affection. “I don’t like to embarrass students,” said Mr. Boyle. “I usually just clear my throat whenever I walk by situations like that, and most students recognize the cue when they get it.”

Since it’s not a huge issue here at DHS, there isn’t much reason for anyone, administrator, teacher, or student, to get too bent out of shape about the topic.

“There’s definitely a social guideline of what’s acceptable,” said senior Katherine McGuire.

So long as us rambunctious teenagers are able to control our raging hormones, we’re doing a pretty good job of steering clear of any changing PDA policy. Hopefully there will never be a need for us to count how many seconds we have to hug our friends before we have to let go.