School attempts new cell phone policy


Yin Fei, Staff Writer

A new policy regarding the use of technology, specifically cellphones and other mobile devices, has been introduced for the 2019-2020 school year in an attempt to limit the amount of screen-time that students spend while on campus.

Upper Division Administration and Head of the Upper Division Dr. Jessica Levenstein designed the existing policy, which can be found in the updated Family Handbook.

The rules listed include: restricting cell phone use while in the Gross Theater or Recital Hall during assembly, not taking pictures, filming videos or recording audio-especially within the bathrooms and locker rooms-and never texting or posting recording of any of the people involved without their consent.

There an emphasis on discouraging students against using their cellphones while in the hallways, stairwells, or when passing from class to class.

“It’s dispiriting to walk through the halls or enter a classroom where students are engaging in their separate digital universes and not interacting with each other or with the adults,” Levenstein said.

“There are still so many places where people can be on their devices– the library is one such place–walking in the halls and across campus and sitting out on the field are just not places that needs to happen,” Library Department Chair Caroline Bartels said.

Violation of any of these policies can result in consequences such as phones confiscation or even disciplinary action, depending on the extremity of the infraction.

However, the new policy was not implemented to punish or to make students feel guilty, Student Body President Isha Agarwal (12) said. The idea behind it is to shift the culture of the school by looking up and saying ‘Hi’ to one another, instead of walking through the halls with our heads down, she said.

The policy sparked a wide-range of reactions, largely because it addresses such a polarizing topic today: teenagers and the lure of social media, Levenstein said.

“The restrictions are unnecessary because we don’t have time to talk to each other in the hallways between class anyway, and people say hi in the hallways regardless of the policy,” Uddipto Nandi (10) said.

The policy is, to an extent, rather pointless since the restrictions are only in certain areas and it is still more freedom than the middle school last year, Harris said.

On the other hand, there are a number of students who agree with the reasoning behind developing the guidelines this year, and who support the structure of the policy as well as the message behind its creation.

“I actually like the concept of it, since I still get to use my phone and I’ve always thought that people were on their phones too much in school,” Sadie Hill (11) said. “It’s reasonable that it exists right now since it seems more like a broad suggestion than an actual policy.”

Some teachers have also altered their personal methods or previous policies in an effort to effectively adhere to the new emphasis in their own classrooms.

“I now have students turn their phones off when they come into class, and then put the phones in a cell phone depository for the remainder of class,” history teacher Dr. Ellen Bales said. “They can then pick up their phones as they leave the room.”

Whatever the reactions may be, there still exists a collective hope that the cell phone policy will eventually lead to a less digitized, closer, and healthier environment for all students.

“Students will feel closer to one another when their peers flash them a smile instead of seeing a flash on their phone,” Agarwal said.

The new policy empowers and challenges the school to be present for one another, Bales said, and to gradually chip away at the aspects of phone use that approach an addiction.