It sounds good in theory. Ridgefield High School’s new open campus policy will allow students with a qualifying GPA and 90 minutes of free time to leave school and go wherever they wish-as long as they return in time for their next class. While the majority of my fellow seniors are rejoicing at this news, especially as the policy finally goes into effect at the beginning of second quarter, I am not. I firmly believe that an open campus policy is not a good idea.
I will begin by acknowledging that although I meet the GPA requirement and have enough free time to take advantage of it, I will not be applying for the program because I have neither a license nor a car. If I did have either of those things, I probably would be applying for the program, simply because it is available.
However, I still don’t entirely understand the point of having an open campus. The first problem I see with it is that Ridgefield High School is located about 15 minutes away from town and from many students’ houses. The travel time alone is prohibitive. In a 90-minute block, a student will typically spend a third of their time driving to and from their destination. This to me seems to dull some of the luster of being able to go “anywhere you want.”
But the biggest reason I think that this policy is not a smart idea is its extreme potential for accidents. Imagine several students, recently licensed, rushing to get back to school and find a parking spot in time. The potential for a collision is great in this scenario, and I don’t understand how open campus is worth this risk. Students argue that they need a place to study in place of the crowded library, but there are plenty of quiet hallways or benches within the school to sit at and get work done. Many also say that they will use open campus as an opportunity to grab lunch in place of the typically unsavory cafeteria food, but I tend to believe that the cost of eating out will soon become too great to maintain this habit.
Most of all, I think we need to remember how we survived during the previous three years, when an open campus option was not available. Somehow, we managed to do our homework in the library and relax with our friends in the student center. Now, with less than a year of high school left to go, I think we can live with a closed campus for a few months more. Some argue that open campus promotes more freedom and responsibility. But soon enough, we’ll be in college, with way more freedom than the kind that comes with being able to grab a bagel after class.