EDITORIAL: Are students livin’ it up in the Hotel Massapequa?


Much time is wasted every day by students who are unable to leave the library early.

The MHS library offers a wealth of resources for students: thousands of books that can be borrowed, librarians available who are willing and ready to help with research projects, printers for last-minute assignments, and ample space for studying and tutoring, to name a few.

“The high school library is no longer just a room with books on a shelf,” Maureen Quinlan said in an article for the Boston Globe. “It is a multifunctional space meant to unite a community and aid the creative and innovative learning and teaching process.”

Despite the technology and information offered, the convenience of the library is hindered by a policy that requires students who check into the library to stay there for the remainder of the period. This rule deters students with unscheduled “out” periods from visiting for even five minutes — simply printing a paper or briefly helping a friend with homework confines them to the library.

“Students are incessantly bombarded with assignments and some don’t even have time to eat lunch,” senior Julie Kapuvari said. “We aren’t allowed to eat in the library, so it would be convenient to work in the library for however long and permit us to leave when necessary.”

The rule serves to minimize disruptions while classes are in session. Aside from being unable to leave the library, students are, in most cases, prohibited from leaving the Cyber Café or classrooms.

“We don’t want people in the hallways because what happens is, it’s innocent, but say you and I go, we’re doing what we’re doing, then we go out and I say ‘I just want to go to my locker,’” dean of students Mr. Patrick Howard said. “Then you go to your locker and you’re standing outside of a classroom talking. We want to try to cut down on that.”

Moreover, the library isn’t a complete waste of time, as it provides space for working on homework assignments (even maintaining a collection of textbooks for every course taught at MHS), and allows time to be spent productively and with minimal distractions.

On the other hand, these issues are relatively easy to counter. Disruptive students roaming the halls can be easily spotted and stopped due to the presence of hall monitors right outside of the library, as well as other parts of the building. While the library is a place for students to do productive work, it’s unreasonable to suggest that students should be obligated to spend the entire period in the library because they wanted to drop in briefly.

“I’ve got a heavy course load and minimal time at home to do homework,” senior Jessica Bardio said. “Usually I try to do as much as I can during lunch the day it’s assigned, but if it’s textbook work that’s impossible. I can’t stop in the library and take pictures of the pages I need, then go out and enjoy my lunch.”

The largest obstacle to overcome would be the issue of tracking who really does have an out period and who is looking for an excuse to cut class. In such cases, it would be hard to distinguish between conscientious students and troublemakers.

However, the same methods used by the dean’s office for handling those who do just cut class would be applicable to this situation as well. Students who cut class using the “out period” excuse would be easily caught regardless of library policy, and would face consequences that would either deter them from cutting or make it impossible for them to leave the building anyway.

Ultimately, nearly all students see the requirement of staying the entire period as an obstruction that inhibits their freedom of open campus.

“I don’t think they should be allowed to force you to stay,” senior Kelly Flaherty said. “If you have the freedom to come to the library, you should have the freedom to leave when you’re done.”

The dean’s office recognizes that students should not be penalized for studying. As such, exceptions are currently made on a case-by-case basis for students who want to go in, get their work done quickly, and leave.

“If there are extenuating circumstances, we always exercise common sense,” Mr. Howard said. “If they want to go get something to eat because they’re hungry and they only have one opportunity to print something out, we’re going to make exceptions if they come to the Dean’s Office or Ms. LiVecchi and let us know.”

Obviously, a change in policy is necessary to grant students a greater degree of freedom in accessing the library. Restricting students’ ability to plan how they spend their time in the building, for something as minor as going to the library to get pictures from a book, only hurts students, and is contrary to the objective of the library, making it an increasingly unpopular location to work.

It is simply up to the student body to make administration more aware of the need for a change in the way library check-ins are handled.

“Practices change… if we see that more and more people are coming in and need certain things, we may make changes, but right now, that’s where we are,” Mr. Howard said.

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