Force LunchA Sad AlternativeWednesday, January 17, 2007 By Matt Chuchul
There have been whispers lately of a new policy stating that students must take a lunch period. This seems to be the hot topic as everyone seems to be giving their two-cents about the subject. Administrators make the claim that it will ultimately decrease student stress, and with recent studies showing that Herricks students are turning to cheating and bad health habits, administrators are seeing a lunch period as the solution—the savior of sorts. In my opinion, that is a terrible misconception. The enforcement of a mandatory lunch is stepping over bounds that violate a student’s will and is not a step our school should be taking. Outside Information Lunch is a recommended right that we all have. It is not mandatory. Part of having the right to have lunch is also having the right to give it up. If a student wishes to give up the right to a lunch, then that student’s wishes should be honored. This exact sentiment is found in a document known as the Bill of Rights. You may have heard of it. I do not want to get all bogged down in history here, but it is the same exact situation which is being forced here. The Second Amendment guarantees everyone the right to bear arms. If you want to own a gun, then you can. If you want a lunch period, then you can have it. People make the claim that owning a gun is good for protection and well-being. Well, having a lunch is good for your health and well-being as well. However, many go on living perfectly safe lives without ever owning a firearm, and many students go on having a perfectly normal day without having a lunch period. The administrators should take a page out of the government’s playbook and respect our right to give up a right. Stress Levels A controlling argument of those in support of a mandatory lunch period is that it will decrease a student’s stress level. That is pretty obvious if you ask me. Less class equals less stress. But, there are better ways to accomplish this goal. If administrators really wanted to curb our stress levels, then they would decrease the workload in other ways. To do this, give students less homework. But no, that would not happen because then that would be stepping on the toes of teachers. Instead of targeting the workloads already in place and decreasing all of them slightly, the solution proposed is entirely eliminating a class out of a student’s schedule. Why? Now, the students’ toes are being squashed. Now, we have to make compromises. If people want to take more classes, let them. If they want to deal with the stress, let them as well. Health Issues Another argument is that students have no time to eat lunch and that not eating lunch is unhealthy. Well, I am certainly not going to argue with the latter part of that, but the beginning is misleading. With increasing acceptance of eating in class, more students who lack a lunch period are eating during class time. Also, there is no guarantee that students who have a lunch period will eat lunch at that time. There is no fact that says that if you are in the lunchroom, then you are eating lunch. If administrators are really concerned about full stomachs and healthy kids, then the time of first period should be pushed back to allow students more time to eat breakfast. Also, a decreased workload in existing classes might provide students a chance to eat dinner as well. I have skipped dinner before because I am engrossed in homework, and others have undoubtedly done the same. Social Skills It is believed that during lunch, there are valuable social skills which cannot be attained anywhere else. Students are in need of these social skills—otherwise, they will fail in the real world. Obviously, anytime you are with others you are learning how to socialize, so what makes lunch so special? Let me get this straight: the first eight years of lunch did not build up a good enough social understanding already? It is not like if you never took lunch in high school that you will fail in the real world. Most of us know by middle school what is and what is not proper to do during lunch. Further lessons are not necessary. The basics have been covered already. I do not need to learn how to eat lunch. I know how to talk and socialize; I have done it for a while now. In addition, if you were taking a class instead of lunch, then you should be learning social skills in that class as well. In class, we should be learning how to work in groups, participate, problem solve, and all that good stuff. So, even though you are taking a class instead of a lunch period, there should still be social skills being honed. Limitations on Classes But finally, it comes down to the sheer facts and numbers. The first few arguments are valid, but there are no cold, hard facts. Look at it like this: in the current system, we have the opportunity for several electives, and if there were a forced lunch, then we would have less opportunity to pursue interesting electives. What does that mean from a scheduling standpoint? That people are going to want to cut lunch and go to other classes. Not because they are nerds, but because they want to do things and learn things. The following two scenarios are worrisome. As a freshman, you are going to take one period of music or art to fulfill your credit. That eliminates one of your free periods. If lunch was enforced, that leaves you with one more free period. Intense math, I know. Many freshmen choose a business course as well, which means the schedule would be full after that. That means that another art class, computer class, or science class will all have to be put on hold. Especially at that time, students should be taking whatever classes they feel suit their interests. A loss of an elective puts that in danger. A limited scope provides for limited opportunities. The other example is a student who is trying to double-up on science. If that student only has three elective periods, then after he or she takes that second science, the student is pretty much done. Art, music, or most other electives are eliminated. At that point, the student loses an opportunity to enjoy him or herself in other electives. Is that really what administrators want us to do? Free Will It should not be the school’s responsibility to tell students what they can and cannot do with their education. After being constantly preaching about seizing opportunities and taking advantage of them, administrators should not be setting limitations. In the real world, no one is going to tell you to limit your opportunities because they feel it is too much for you. On top of everything else, we should learn ourselves in school. We should know what our boundaries are; they should not be set for us. Society has created a tough game for us to play, and if we want to play it hard and fast, then let us. Let us find out our limits. Also, there is nothing wrong with taking lunch; it should not be looked down upon. What should be looked down upon is being forced to do something. Forced lunch is a slap to the intelligence of the students. Give us a seminar on the benefits of lunches, but do not come in with a sweeping hand and make gross generalizations that lunch is what everybody wants and needs. It is just like the old saying: assign a student a lunch period, and you have fed him or her for a year; teach a student to take a lunch period, and you will have fed him or her forever.