The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Safety changes emphasize distrust

The+Midway+editorial+board+argues+as+young+adults%2C+U-High+students+are+capable+of+handling+information+regarding+major+changes+to+the+school.
Eliza Dearing
The Midway editorial board argues as young adults, U-High students are capable of handling information regarding major changes to the school.

As students entered school on Sept. 5, instead of an easy flow into the building, they encountered a large, daunting metal fence with gates blocking the Kenwood Mall entrance to school. The only information regarding the stark security change was sent in an email in July briefly mentioning the gate being installed.

From needing your Lab-issued ID to gain entrance to the school grounds, to tapping them again to confirm attendance at assemblies, lots of U-High security changes were made without as little as a survey sent out to students for input. These new changes caused a shock to the systems of many students, leaving questions running through their heads, while assembly protocol changes emphasize lack of administrative trust in students. 

In order for Lab to continue fostering a two-way trust between the administration and students, there must be more transparency regarding major changes to the school. 

No formal communication has been sent to students explaining what prompted the changes. While the construction of the gate could have been related to new safety protocols from the University of Chicago, the possibility of a previous incident threatening students perpetuates fear of the South Side and reinforces stereotypes. 

In these stereotypes, the “Lab Schools bubble” is furthered, along with the creation of a physical barrier around the school. The bubble is the isolation of Lab from the rest of the South Side community through religious, racial, socio-economic and political representation — or lack thereof. Creating a barricade around the school isolates it from the rest of Hyde Park.

This bubble has always been there in theory and idea — as an independent school connected to the University of Chicago, we’re already far removed from the Hyde Park community and the South Side. But now, the daunting mental gates surround the school, creating a display of the bubble that exists and practically advertising to the community that we are this separate institution dropped in the middle of your neighborhood. 

The fencing around Lab sends a message that we as students need to be protected from danger surrounding the school. Because we lack information regarding an incident prompting these gates, it leads to the thoughts that in the Hyde Park community, there is something, or some people, in the area threatening the school. 

As young adults, U-High students are capable of handling information regarding major changes to the school. We can understand and get behind the decision to put a barricade around Lab if the administration is transparent with students. 

The efforts by the administration to make Lab safer are not being taken for granted. With hopes for the future with safety, the administration is asking for student trust, but, in order to build that, there needs to be background information and discussion with students — informing the community about what is going to change. We are mature enough to be trusted with the information regarding changes in our school.

Sharing with students what is going on in the school, asking for input with decisions and finding out about how students feel unsafe at school are all solutions to fostering a more transparent and trusting relationship between students and administrators. 

 

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Eliza Dearing, Artist

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