EDITORIAL: “Lanyards? We don’t need no stinkin’ lanyards”

As MHS students prepared for a new school year, administrative faculty sent home letters explaining the institution of new policies to protect students. Notably, beginning this school year, students will be issued unique ID cards, and will be required to wear them specifically on a yellow lanyard provided by the school under a code of conduct policy that allows adult personnel to ask for identification at any time.

School administrators have explained that the new policy is intended to maintain security and safety by making students more identifiable. By requiring all students to wear their ID cards around their necks on a highly visible yellow lanyard, staff are able to quickly catch potential trespassers who would lack such identifying features.

“Because of the open campus policy and because of the size of our building, we have large numbers of students who enter and leave the building all day long,” Principal Dr. Barbara Williams said. “The community, [and] the Board of Education have expressed concern of what Massapequa High School is going to do to enhance student safety, and it could be an issue that… we don’t recognize every single face.”

Moreover, the barcodes on each ID card could be used in the future to install technology that makes student life more convenient. The school district could, for instance, upgrade security at the high school by installing scanners on entrance doors that allow students to swipe in at any time. This could then be expanded further in the future to automatically check students in upon late arrival and mark their attendance.

Though the ID cards exist as a temporary security measure at the moment, the use of the barcoded IDs for applications like checking out books at the library or buying lunch in the cafeteria could improve student life. Indeed, the ID cards provide an opportunity for Massapequa to become one of the most technologically advanced public schools on Long Island. Despite this, the policy has drawn widespread ire among students, even sparking the creation of a parody account on Twitter. Among other reasons, students have complained about the strict implementation of the new rules, which can impose in-school suspension after failing to wear it after several incidents and requires students caught without their IDs to attend supervised lunch.

Additionally, the lanyards have been called uncomfortable and distracting, and because students’ ID cards and lanyards must be visible at all times on school grounds during the school day, many students believe that it takes away from the individuality of one’s dress.

Still, some students support the ID badge policy, believing that it isn’t a large hassle and contributes to the security of the school.

Administrators such as Dr. Williams also state that having students wear their badges throughout the day is a necessity for keeping order in the building, and have reiterated their statement at this year’s opening assembly, where they also announced that only MHS main campus students would be allowed at homecoming, and would also be required to wear their lanyards to the game.

“On Saturday, you will be allowed to come in the stands [for homecoming] as long as you wear your ID cards, and Farmingdale is not allowing their student fans to attend,” Dr. Williams said at an assembly for seniors. “We cannot have what’s happened in the community happen again,” referencing fights that have broken out at Massapequa–Farmingdale games in the past.

Teachers have generally been indifferent toward the idea of students wearing lanyards, but also lean toward support for it.

On the whole, the school’s new badge policy is largely harmless to students, and provides a renewed sense of security for students and faculty. However, the problem with it is that it provides very little real security. Trespassers on school grounds have largely been students who have already graduated that were briefly visiting friends or teachers, eliminating a slight nuisance if anything.

Still yet, the emphasis on security seems unnecessary, as MHS has not had a deadly incident aside from a shooting in 1958 — an outlier in history. More starkly, were an intruder to enter the building with the intent to cause harm, requiring an ID badge would do nothing to stop the incident.

Since 46 percent of school shootings since January 2008 have been committed by students according to an observational study by the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center, threats from inside the building would not be caught either. If anything, the school’s campus security force, consisting of trained former police officers, would be required to intervene in any case.

Above all, however, the lanyard policy and restricting the movement of students returning from and going to lunch simply take away from the feeling of freedom students would normally get from the high school.

The seemingly disproportionate amount of oversight over something as minor as having proper student identification or going out for lunch feels less like high school and more like middle school in terms of independence and personal responsibility.  Being pulled from a crowd for not having a visible lanyard and threatened with suspension simply seems overblown, and the amount of attention the idea has received from disciplinary staff for something that provides little real security, even by deterrence, only increases the perception.

Safety is a critical part of campus life that should always be evaluated carefully, and the Massapequa School District has made great efforts to ensure it for all students and staff. Unfortunately, between being required to wear ID badges around our necks to identify ourselves and the bizarre “traffic pattern” established for students going to and from lunch, the school’s new rules are an inconvenience to students and little more than security theatre — an act that gives the appearance of security where it does not significantly exist.

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