The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN


The Debate: Should students be able to carry  backpacks throughout the school day or does the rule against backpacks actually make sense for the student body?

Students deserve backpacks during school

Students should be able to carry their backpacks to and from every class. There are many benefits of having all school materials in one place––a backpack––that can travel with students wherever they need to go.

Currently, students have to either carry every single notebook, binder, and folder to all eight classes, or make several trips to their locker throughout the school day. Both options are inconvenient, and the latter often causes students to be late to class. If backpacks were allowed to be carried throughout the school day, it would save time for students, as well as making teachers happy by making it easier for students to make it to class on time. Excluding the extra trips to lockers to pick up textbooks will also give students more time to use the restroom or get something to eat from the cafeteria, things that many students currently miss class time to do.

In some cases, it’s convenient to make a stop at your locker before your next class, but more often than not, the time it takes to stop at your locker makes it impossible for students to get to class on time. I have had several cases when I was coming from a class in the basement to the north building or towards the language department. Without going to my locker, I could’ve made it to class with a minute or two to spare, but since I had to make the extra stop, I was constantly sprinting to class hoping to make it on time.

Having backpacks would not only benefit students from receiving endless tardies due to unnecessary trips to their locker, but the teacher as well. Since students would have extra time that was usually spent on traveling to their locker, they would be less likely to be late to class. That would allow teachers to start class on time and not worry about students coming through the door late.

If backpacks were allowed to be carried throughout the school day, it would save time for students, as well as making teachers happy by making it easier for students to make it to class on time.

— Peyton James

On top of having a different set of materials for every class, students often misplace something in a different folder or leave something behind in their locker. Having the privilege to carry backpacks would allow students to have everything they need for class and reduce the chance that students are unprepared for class. They wouldn’t have to stress about leaving an assignment behind in their locker, or putting their math homework in the English folder. This would allow students to have more time and attention to focus on what’s going on in the classroom rather than worrying about what they left behind, creating a more relaxing day for students. Being able to carry backpacks would eliminate the need for lockers. That means wider hallways all around the school, allowing students, teachers, and other faculty members to get to their destination in a very timely manner, significantly increasing the level of convenience for everyone in school.

Because of all these benefits, students should be able to carry their backpacks from class to class. It saves time for students, makes teachers happy, and makes life more convenient for students throughout their busy school day.

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Students shouldn’t have backpacks out during school

While permitted at most schools, carrying a backpack at BSM outside of first hour is against the rules—barring extenuating circumstances. Students may think they’re getting flimflammed by the administration, but in reality, there are not many reasons why backpacks should be allowed.

Once upon a time, students could carry their backpacks around to every class. “We used to allow students to carry their backpacks during school hours. Teachers have always complained about them clogging up walkways, and I certainly noticed a reduction in hallway space during passing time,” senior high Assistant Principal and Dean Mary Andersen said.

In the Fall of 2010, each senior high student received their own laptop, thus bringing an end to the allowance of backpacks. “We’d thought about getting rid of [backpacks] before, and the new laptops definitely made the decision a lot easier. We also didn’t want computers getting smooshed in students’ backpacks,” Andersen said.

Students may think they’re getting flimflammed by the administration, but in reality, there are not many reasons why backpacks should be allowed.

— Nathanael Ashton-Piper

A rebuttal to Ms. Andersen’s point about backpacks clogging up class walkways might be: well, computer cases, binders, notebooks, and pencil bags clog up walkways, too. How is that different from backpacks? “Take your computer bags and materials and multiply that in size. There’s no arguing that backpacks take up much more space,” Andersen said. She’s right; think of Mrs. Leider’s room—one of the smallest at BSM—filled up with twenty-eight students and their backpacks—that’d be one tight English class.

There are a couple of myths that float around about why BSM doesn’t allow students to carry their backpacks. First, that it’s a fire hazard, and second, that they are bad for students’ health, in that they cause poor posture in one’s back. Ms. Andersen confirmed that these are indeed myths. “I’ve heard the fire hazard more often. A fire hazard is anything that blocks a passageway in the event of a fire, so technically backpacks are—but that doesn’t play into why backpacks aren’t allowed. As for the health reasons, that was kind of made up years ago when there wasn’t a good argument against backpacks. I don’t buy into that; it’s not my job to worry about student’s health over a backpack,” Andersen said.

There’s one exception to the backpack rule, and that’s if a student has sustained an injury. “For people with injuries, it might be tough to continue making trips to their lockers—and it could cause more pain,” Andersen said. For people with injuries, carrying around a backpack certainly makes life a lot easier, but, and I say this from experience, it seems we milk the injury just to be able to carry our backpacks around a little longer. Ms. Andersen isn’t oblivious to this; she knows how we think. “It’s not very hard to distinguish who should and shouldn’t have a backpack during school. If someone has even a cast on, carrying a backpack is okay, but once the injury passes, you all know the rules,” Andersen said.

It’s highly unlikely that any changes will be made to the backpack rule. “I won’t consider bringing them back. If we had larger classrooms as a whole [which isn’t possible], we may be able to accommodate a change, but the way I see it, why not just get rid of lockers? Carrying a backpack eliminates that need and gives us more space,” Andersen said. Getting rid of lockers might sound like a simple solution, but it’s far from cost effective and would have adverse effects on our century-old building.

The fact is, there are a number of reasons why the backpack rule has been put in place, and only one reason we want them back: our convenience. I hear it all the time—and trust me, I’ve experienced it, too—what if you have accounting with Mr. Sabol, and then AP Euro with Mrs. Vroman, or Wellness in the Haben, then Gov with Mr. Pauly—how are you going to make it on time? Simple: come prepared for both classes, and sacrifice the trip to your locker in between.

It would be nice to be able to carry a backpack all the time, but in reality, they’re not coming back—and there are no compelling reasons for their return.

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