Response to school fights should involve student input

Beacon Staff

Last week, administrators went class to class to deliver a slideshow on “recentering Wilson,” addressing the recent increase in fights and new hall sweep and security policies. While administrators delivered the presentation in different ways, the message was clear. They weren’t asking for input from students, they were telling us. 

The school leadership needs to engage students as stakeholders in finding the right approach to resolve fighting between students.

Although we should strive to put an end to violence, administrators need to not only be open to student input, but actively seek it. The way that we’re communicated with impacts the way that we act, and ignoring our unique perspectives is treating us as less than the thoughtful, responsible adults we are supposed to be growing into.

While consequences for fighting are warranted, the response should be restorative, not punitive. During the “recentering”  presentations, some classes were even told that those who got into fights could walk out of school in handcuffs. Involving police officers after a fight or increasing the police presence in the building is not the answer and instead results in the criminalization of students who are mostly Black and Brown and perpetuates the idea of the school-to-prison pipeline. While this may not be the goal, it was how many students interpreted the message.

School administrators are putting a bandaid on the bigger problem. Teenagers have complicated feelings, come from diverse home situations, and many of us have not been in a school building for over a year. Students who get into fights are not acting immature, they’re acting like human beings. Most students don’t even know how to find the school’s Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Arrington. Wilson also has a peer mediation club that has not been used since last year. Promoting these routes for remediation should be the first resort.

Banning homemade baked goods and calling the parents of students who fill their water bottles without a pass are policies that signal a lack of trust.

We do not claim that all students have identical opinions about school policies. In fact, we’re positive that we don’t. But our perspectives should be a tool that the administration values. We deserve to be a part of the conversation. •