Students shouldn’t have backpacks out during school

Nathanael Ashton-Piper, Staff Writer

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.