I am writing to you expressing my concerns about recent phone confiscations and the deviation from the phone policy posted in the handbook. A few years ago, the students and faculty came together and wrote a new phone policy, and while it has worked, recently I have seen some discrepancies. Over the last few weeks, I saw an uptick in phone confiscations during break and lunch in the cafeteria. While cell phone usage is prohibited inside of Saints Hall as the altered phone policy states, phone confiscation is also prohibited! In my opinion, it seems quite one-sided to punish students for using their phones in a prohibited area, while teachers and administrators, who are prohibited from confiscating phones unless in the case of a major offense, so do. In one instance I saw a teacher searching for students who had phones out, and eventually found a student who had a phone on the table face down, but clearly not in use. This phone was confiscated. One glaring problem with this is that the phone policy, decided on by the students and the faculty, states that a phone being visible: on the table, in someone’s hand, or in a pocket, etc. does not constitute the use of a cell phone. It seems that one end of the deal is not being held up. This break with policy shows that policy is only as good as the people who enforce it.
Another problem I would like to address about the phone policy is that phones cannot be used in the cafeteria because they limit discussion at lunch and break. I respectfully disagree with that assumption. For example, the other day at my lunch table we had a substantive conversation, and one student showed the rest of the table a photo he had gotten recognition for, but before we saw anything a faculty member was there to confiscate his phone. To this faculty member’s credit, she gave the student a warning because he hasn’t gotten in trouble for that before, but future conversations will not proceed because of the fear of repercussions, such as getting their phone taken. What I would like to see in the future is an addendum to the phone policy that if a student is not using a phone in a malicious, disruptive, or disrespectful way, that phone usage should be allowed. I believe this change would reduce strife and have a positive impact on the community.
Senior Johnathan O. Glenn