The Idea of Clear Backpacks is not so Crystal Clear
April 10, 2018
Pros of Clear Backpacks
Although not exactly fashionable or completely desirable, there are particular “pros” to the new uniform policy implemented by the school board in Parkland, Florida after the shooting on Valentine’s day. When the student body made a return to campus, they were handed mandatory identification that must be worn at all times and clear book bags that were to be used for the foreseeable future. Students quickly went to social media to protest against this new mandate and, in the words of many students, “clear violation of privacy.” Despite the negative commentary made by students, the purpose of implementing these new clear bags, which are now part of the school’s policy, has benefits in terms of keeping the students safe—which is the school’s most crucial priority.
Due to the clarity of the material, everything inside the bag can be detected without having to open the bag. School board members believe this will make it harder for anyone to bring a weapon onto school grounds as it will be easier to identify the assailant and apprehend them before they can go through with their malicious plans. After the horrific incident occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, school security has surely been on high alert. These new book bags make it easier to inspect a bag at a glance. Moreover, parents too will be able to clearly see what their son or daughter is taking to school, reducing the chance of the student sneaking something they shouldn’t into their bags for concealment.
“In all honesty, I really do think the adults handling the situation are just trying desperately to find a solution to the nagging question in everyone’s mind…’what if it happens again?’ This is just one of the solutions that they are trying out to see if it helps,” junior Louis Roses said.
Additionally, with clear book bags students are able to see what they are missing in terms of books and other supplies intended for that day’s classes without having to open their bags. In addition to seeing what they might be forgetting at home quicker, students can find their belongings in a faster manner. Furthermore, teachers and school administration will now have an inside look at the student’s bag, making it easier to detect any type of theft regarding classroom materials and other items of school property.
By having a book bag that everyone has, one can avoid having to spend a costly amount of money to buy a book bag that will only end up scarping the floor every time one sits down, getting dirty from the day to day use. Nonetheless, now everyone can be on the same level—no flashy book bags or accessories that can clearly separate those with the income to afford them from those who cannot afford them. This policy allows the entire student body to be uniform and no student can make another student uncomfortable with designs that may not be flattering; nobody likes to be reminded of their monetary struggles as a student parades down the hall with a Prada bag.
“I think this is a step in the right direction. However, this cannot be the only change the school makes,” sophomore Brooke Dickler said.
This transparency is the new status quo the student population has to deal with. Current lawmakers for the school board district have decided that this is the school policy at the moment and expect that these students will simply follow the new rules. However, the students are doing the exact opposite.
One cannot help but wonder, after these students went through a traumatic experience and lost classmates, why is this new policy implemented to keep them safe is receiving such negative rapport? Students spend a large fraction of their time in school and should feel safe in their second home. This rule for transparent bags is a step in the right direction, but it is just one step in a long road for a change.
Cons of Clear Backpacks
Social media has recently seen an influx of grievances that have been made by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school’s administration handed out clear book bags when school commenced after Spring Break. This new mandate was made in a reaction to make schools safer after the tragic events of Feb. 14. However, students feel as if these new regulations, such as a mandatory ID hanging on their necks at all times and a clear book bag, are an invasion of privacy and not what they are asking for in the March for Our Lives movement.
These clear book bags have shown to be small: very small, meaning it is a definite con to those who have to lug around heavy textbooks, folders, laptops, composition books, binders, pencils, pens and equipment for any particular extracurricular activity. Additionally, the material used in the creation of these bags cannot support the same weight that a normal book bag is created to hold; it is no secret that the everyday essentials of students weigh a lot, and they are most likely going to break the straps of the bag—meaning that these clear bags are a waste money and are not beneficial to the students.
“I carry a lot of things in my book bag, from my lunch to my sweater for my coldest classes to several binders, and sometimes my book bag seems like it is going to explode! I cannot imagine how some of these students are coping with such a small bag,” freshman Nicolas Musa said.
Aside from the size, which is not favorable, the new bags that students are now forced to use are made from plastic, which is highly flammable. It can be argued, that there is a very unlikely chance a bag will catch fire on a school campus, however, this does not include any other circumstance a student can find themselves in. Some students leave their book bags lying around, carelessly and anywhere, because they have bigger, more-demanding priorities that take most of their concentration. In a situation like this, anything can spill on top of the bag or even cause the bag to be damaged because the material is cheap plastic. Furthermore, the bags can be easily scratched, stretched on a very hot day and are very tight and uncomfortable for students to wear.
The students took no time to showcase their anger on Twitter and other forms of social media. One of the most mentioned reasons for disliking the transparent bag is that girls can no longer conceal feminine products in the tiny nooks of their bags. Tampons and menstrual pads are now completely in the line of sight of whoever takes a look at a female student’s bag. This is said to be a violation of privacy, and many students are not for it. It is hard enough for a female student to ask permission to use the bathroom for her feminine needs, but now everyone in her entire class needs to know and see when she digs into her bag to reach for a pad or tampon, making it understandable why these students are so upset. However, just because female students will no longer get to keep their business private, there are no guarantees that a student will not try to hide a weapon in a textbook or between binders or other items that are non-threatening—which reverts back to the main point that these bags are just a step in a long road to provide students full safety on school grounds. A weapon can still be brought into the school and a student can still be harmed with a pocket knife or small handgun, since they are two weapons that can be easily hidden inside an empty binder. However, because a binder is a school regulated classroom item, it seems completely innocent; so how truly safe are these students?
“The thought of a student being able to sneak in a knife between a book terrifies me. The thought alone should not exist, yet it is a thought that must be constantly running through their minds,” sophomore Emma Garcia said.
Students also lose self-expression because they can no longer show their style and individualism when choosing the book bag they use for school. For example, a student who likes sports might find themselves using a Speedo bag; these bags are big and comfortable while being fully equipped to hold all of the student’s materials. Other students prefer more colorful bags to express their style, but these clear bags now take away from that small form of self-expression. Students are already told how to dress, and the fact that their bags are now being regulated is a bit outrageous. They are forced to wear certain colors, jackets that follow the school policies and shoes that are acceptable in the eyes of the administration. Some of these garments can be uncomfortable, yet students have to deal with them or they risk detention, referrals or suspensions. So, it becomes understandable when a student, who is forced to follow these strict guidelines, compares their school to a prison. However, the only way for them to express their discomfort is to protest the bags, which is exactly what they have been doing.
It is needless to say that students will not sit idly by as their rights are being violated. However, will lawmakers truly make a change that pleases everyone? This is highly improbable, but it will not stop these students from mocking the new policy and cracking a joke or two as they come to realize, this is their new life.