Opinion: Whose Privilege?

by Alisha Tran
BHS News

The second semester is upon us: it’s the time of year again when Braintree High School seniors arrive to school late, enjoying the privilege of not being tardy as long as they arrive before 8:30 AM. Some students use this, others are indifferent, and some want more privileges.

The students must meet certain grade and behavior requirements, have a study first block, and have their parents sign a permission sheet. Because this privilege rewards students for their good behavior throughout the year, it motivates them to keep up their grades to retain the privilege. Braintree High School graduates, Peggy Wu and Aaron Yu recognize the luxury awarded, an extra hour to sleep, study, daydream, etc. Aaron Yu believes the privilege leaves seniors with a positive last impression of school, even though it had very little impact for him.

Peggy sees it as the administration’s acknowledgement of the students as mature adults, ready to graduate high school: the privilege further prepares students for college life through building time-management skills and responsibility, teaching them to be accountable for their own actions.

What makes this system problematic is that the determining factor for qualification relies on whether the student has a study first in their day. So when underclassmen look forward to the second semester of their senior year, their schedule — a condition out of their control — could prevent them from being eligible.

Braintree High School’s senior privilege used to expand further, allowing seniors to leave school during study if they had it last block. When students abused the privilege, the administration revoked it. This action undermines the need for requirements and leads us to question the system.

Selectivity is not the problem, as long as the qualifications are merit and behavior based, resting entirely on the student. Wu suggests that the requirements be more strict, and should raise standards on grade, absence, and suspension history. This emphasizes the “privilege” part, students would then strive to earn the benefit; however, the “senior” part lacks meaning when only a fraction of students have a study first during the seven day cycle. In a sense, the setup promotes taking less major classes in order to increase one’s chances of having a study first, and then to reap the benefits of the privilege.

Sue Frazier from the security booth agrees that there should be a privilege that applies to more students from the start. Though, the issue of accessibility rises as transportation to school an hour later than usual isn’t possible for some students. There are nearly 400 students in the class of 2014, and, according to Frazier, usually ten to fifteen seniors take advantage of the privilege per day, and as few as eight on a slow day.

Though, it is a common reality for a minority to cause damage to everyone, and though it is sensible for our high school to subscribe to this rationale, the current senior privilege does not appropriately manifest the administration’s trust and belief in students, nor does it serve as something worth anticipating for throughout high school. It has become so limited that it cannot prepare students for life in college, let alone the responsibilities outside of high school. Establishing qualifications upon a factor that students cannot control is unfair and exclusive, it is not a privilege.