Opinion: Closed courtyard gates serve as an unnecessary obstacle

Photo courtesy of Addison Magrath // Staff writer Abby Coyman considers the pros and cons of the courtyard gates being locked during the school day.

There is no need to question the prevalence of the recent crackdown on security at Westhill. Security guards are harder to get past, tickets are being handed out, and most importantly, the gates leading into the courtyard are locked.

“It’s a hassle,” said senior Richie Greenbaum when explaining the difficulties this causes. “Everyday, it causes me to be late for my class across the school.” Kids are now forced to go around the perimeter of the buildings, instead of cutting straight through the courtyard. This causes less time for students to interact with their friends, which one could argue is important in our daily lives.

But, without saying, everything has its pros and cons. “It’s for safety,” said Tom Pereira, Dean of Students. He explained that the gates prevent any suspicious person from entering the school unnoticed. In order to gain entrance, the visitor would need to pass by one of the two offices, which is always heavily guarded by security. This is a good idea for the safety of the  school, but why now?

While that makes sense overall, the locking of the gates seems unnecessary. There is security on every floor of every building, and in addition there are security guards posted outside at each entrance to the property. Any suspicious visitor would be spotted even before reaching the gates.

To the students, it feels as though the gates are closed just to have control. Senior Tyler Cubano admits that, “while there are pros and cons to every situation, there is now a total separation in a social aspect, and most kids will have to go around to get into the courtyard, but it does help out with the school’s safety in all.” Students now must walk a certain way, which takes away what little choices we do have.

Additionally, the gates are closed to deter students from hanging out in the courtyard in between bells. We have all seen these groups who are late to class due to socializing. The closed gates act as a physical obstacle, forcing frustrated students to head to class on time. Based on my experience, this seems to be working. I’ve seen less students hanging around the courtyard, but there is a rise in the amount of loitering in the hallways.

Overall, the locking of the gates does aid in the safety of our school, but has come as a somewhat abrupt inconvenience for students. The gates have stayed open for more than half of the school year, so the sudden obsession with locking them is questionable. It does create one more layer to get into the building, but at the cost of the students. It is harder to stop and say hi to a friend without the worry of a tardy hanging over your head.  It’s always good to be prepared for the worst, but as a student who is effected by this, it is hard to support something that you never had a say in to begin with.

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