New Media Center policy for second semester

The DHS Media Center before school.

Mary Bancroft

The DHS Media Center before school.

Saying that the DHS Media Center is crowded at 7:15 am would be an understatement. Every table, booth and armchair is occupied. While some students are bent over textbooks and binders in order to complete their homework, most are chatting with friends or using their phones.

Starting second semester, many will have to find a new place to gather. Students will no longer be allowed to enter the library without a signed agenda book from a teacher stating that they have an academic reason to be there. This policy applies to before school, during lunch, and after school. The prohibition of food and drinks without closed caps will also be enforced.

Much of this has already been a part of DHS policy. According to the Student Handbook, students need a signed agenda book to enter the library during the school day or during lunch. The only amendment is that this rule now applies to before and after school.

Security Monitor Darnele Cunha has observed the state of the library in the morning and believes that the new change had to be made. “We’ve had some students kind of destroy the library. They broke furniture,” she said. Along with broken chairs, there have been reports of littering, books being thrown into the ceiling, and drawings of obscene images left in books.

Librarian Amanda Lawrence found that the library had strayed from its academic purpose in the morning. She said, “We have kids who lack resources at home who need to use resources in the library in the morning, but they can’t because it has become more of a social gathering.”

For students who wish to mingle, Associate Principal Rachel Chavier encourages them to use the cafeteria before school and the lobby after school. “We’re all for socialization. But when it takes away from work being done, it becomes a problem,” she said. “The library is the hub of the building. It’s the heart of DHS. We want to protect our heart.”

Ms. Chavier also wants to protect the students. The number of students in the library before school is over its capacity of 134. In the case of a dangerous situation such as a fire or other incident, DHS could be cited for such a safety violation.

However, the student response to this change has been mostly negative. Many enjoy convening in the library with their friends to chat and some of those who use it for academic reasons do not want to go through the process of obtaining a pass.

In regards to why he and his friends enjoyed spending time in the library, sophomore Taenler Tavares said, “We eat so much food all the time. We’re really loud. I like being loud. We get kicked out of the library two to three times a week. Dean Martin kicks us out for no apparent reason. There are people standing around, and we’re just sitting here doing chemistry and talking about football. I feel like we’re being targeted.”

Sophomore Dylan Senra did not think the library’s supposedly rowdy environment hindered his ability to do work. “It’s a good place to come do your homework before class,” he said.

Junior Cameron Figueiredo has spent most of his mornings in the library since his freshman year and is not pleased with having to alter his routine. He said, “In the morning, it’s a nice place to sit down and hang out. Everyone is going to be in the hall now. It’ll be crowded.” He does not foresee many students moving to the cafeteria.

While sophomore Jacob Lisa is disappointed about no longer being able to socialize in the library, he does see a few perks to the situation. He said, “At least we’ll get chairs in the cafeteria.” Because so many students crowd the library each morning, the many chairs are quickly occupied and he sometimes sits on his backpack as a replacement.

Other students believe that the new policy is punishing many for the acts of a few. Freshman Sam D’Atri said, “The library is more than just a place to do work. It creates a social environment between other students, and as long as they’re not disturbing others, it should be allowed.”

His sentiments were echoed by one sophomore. “I think that it’s unfair to the people who go in there to relax and wait for their buses after school. They are taking that away from people who abide by the rules put in place for the library,” she said. “I also think that it’s a little ridiculous to have to get your agenda signed by a teacher to go in there to use the resources and do homework. If people are in there being loud, then they can be kicked out.”

Many students have also expressed concern over having the ability to print an assignment for class without having enough time to obtain a pass. While Ms. Lawrence urges them to try to plan ahead, she said, “There is no way we are going to turn away people who have work to do. If you have a problem, come talk to me about it, and I’ll help you.”

The library welcomes all who want to study, complete homework, or read quietly. The intent of the new policy is to protect the library’s educational environment by distinguishing those with academic purpose from those who merely want to gossip or flip water bottles.