By: Charlie Finnerty
As returning students began the 2017-2018 school year, they may have noticed several major changes to the school and its policies. An overcrowded assembly hall and cafeteria, new club schedules, and the “remodeled” senior room have attracted the attention of many upperclassmen and sophomores. However, one change that many students may have not yet noticed is a change to the lunchroom clean up policy.
In the past, lunchroom clean up was delegated to underclassmen. In alphabetical order each week, six or seven students from the sophomore and freshmen class would be chosen to clean tables in the lunchroom. Now, rather than selecting underclassmen, a different advisory is chosen each week. This has left some older students feeling cheated after years of anticipation for the privileges and freedoms of being an upperclassmen.
Jonathan Hazelhurst (‘18) says, “I remember as a freshmen I was so excited to be able to go off campus and enjoy free time during lunch, now I feel like that’s been taken away from me.” A lot of seniors share this opinion. Gilman students look forward to senior privileges and long lunch off campus as much as they look forward to seasons off and having half the day off with super frees.
The timing of this policy change is also questionable. With a freshman class size of 124, the most students of any freshman class in Gilman history, this year would be more ideal for freshmen to carry the burden than any in recent history.
According to the administration, the policy is necessary and promotes a stronger, closer community. Mr. Rob Heubeck said, “I thought a lot about community, a lot about working together, and I thought that was something that may have separated us a little bit.” It also was not fair to the underclassmen. The mess in the dining hall is created by all the students, so why should half the students be responsible for cleaning the mess made by the whole student body? Mr. Heubeck also wanted to address any concerns of any seniors who value off-campus lunch saying, “At first I thought that they should not go off campus if they have clean up duty, but I trust the students to be back in time. So as long as they're back in time, I think going off campus for lunch and coming back is fine.” The new policy also allows advisors to dictate how they want to delegate the work to their advisees. For example, if a larger advisory can afford to split up the work, advisors can alternate throughout their week to give a couple kids the day off each day. Lastly, a major benefit of the new system is that there will not be any repeats like in the past. Usually, students who did lunch clean up early in the year would have to do it again in the last few weeks of school. The new system does not require those repeats, even allowing a few lucky advisories to not have to do lunch clean up at all.
While some older students may resent the new policy, the long-term result of this new direction will ultimately prove the right decision for the school. As Mr. Heubeck says, all students need to help out and hopefully this will bring the school together over time. One week of work is a small sacrifice to pay for those long-term benefits.