Rules have taken control at OPRF

Opinion: Columns

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Chris Farruggia

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Oak Park and River Forest High School has dashed my hopes of being respected as a student through implementation of new rules this year. Students are forced to wear IDs. If caught not wearing IDs, teachers or security guards yell at or chase us until we put it on. In class, teachers demand that IDs be worn, in fear that a supervisor may be spying on them and report their inability to enforce the ID policy. Most punitive are the new lunchroom rules. Students must scan to leave at lunch. Outside, police cars circumnavigate the building. If a student leaves without scanning out, alarms on the doors sound.

Additionally, unexcused absences or a failing grade result in restricted lunch. For many students, lunch is the time of day when they recharge their batteries so they can focus on the rest of their day.

Rules have overtaken the high school. Equally disappointing is the stance the security guards have been forced to take. Instead of providing a safe learning environment for students, they yell at students for wearing hats, not wearing IDs, not cleaning their lunch table, and talking loudly in the cafeteria. Instead of protecting the students, they are harassing them. Clearly, security has gone overboard.

OPRF is not alone in adopting overbearing security policies. In airports, new body scanners scan your whole body, inside out. Afterward, an airport security officer pats down your whole body. Cellphone companies keep records of every text message and phone call their clients make. Credit card companies monitor people's spending patterns so that entering certain stores triggers advertisement boards to project items likely to hook the consumer into buying. Cameras on traffic lights wait for you to be one inch over the line so they can squeeze $150 out of you. Police officers search teenagers when they have no right or reasonable suspicion to do so. These ludicrous security parameters prompt the question, what is the benefit of such extreme measures?

There is no benefit. After a few incidents of breached security such as 9/11, corporations realize they can reap tremendous profit off of people's fear. So airports install million-dollar full-body scanners in airports.

In America, the land of the free, democracy has failed. Government and large businesses exploit our rights to privacy and freedom. Taxes steal away half of people's paychecks to fix government mistakes. Corporations commit criminal acts of tax evasion through loopholes. Those evaded taxes funnel down to the working class. Democracy has turned into the majority of America doing all the work and making less profit than ever, while the few large corporations dictate our financial and social fates.

How does this pertain to OPRF? The world, like OPRF, is shifting toward being a "lanyard-wearing" society. Those who should be protecting us will abuse us and ignore our rights as humans. Cameras everywhere will monitor our every move. The few of us who realize the injustices happening will be stifled, whether by a detention for refusing to wear a lanyard or being shocked with a stun gun and handcuffed for protesting outside corporate buildings.

Teachers should not have to fear that supervisors might be spying on them. Students should not have to fear security guards. People should not work hard all day to come home and get half of the money they deserve. Corporations should not be allowed to commit criminal acts without prosecution.

When asking the staff at OPRF why these measures are necessary, the same answer is always repeated: "Because every school has them."

My question to OPRF is: If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?

Chris Farruggia is a student at OPRF High School.

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Reader Comments

19 Comments - Add Your Comment

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former student   

Posted: February 19th, 2012 9:06 PM

Sorry bout it , kinda our fault, we had the highest "ditch" rates and caused problems with other school so they came and kicked kids a**** , grow up peter pan and deal with it , it's 4 years not your whole life, and if you would all wear the ids you wouldn't get yelled at. #sorryboutitbro

T from southside  

Posted: February 15th, 2012 12:10 AM

"...they yell at students for wearing hats, not wearing IDs, not cleaning their lunch table, and talking loudly in the cafeteria. Instead of protecting the students, they are harassing them. Clearly, security has gone overboard." Dude please. Yall got it easy in OP. Come kick it at Kenwood for a day. If u act a fool and break rules, ur gonna get treated, plain and simple. Hard heads make soft behinds, and it sounds like yall at oprf clown on the regular. I respect your voice, but quit whining

Former OPRF Student  

Posted: February 14th, 2012 1:10 PM

Also, security measures are a sign of the times. Would you rather wear your id and scan in/out, or attend a memorial for a friend? It seems unrelated and harsh, but OPRF has undeniable issues related to drugs and violence. Those things invite outside issues that quickly pop the suburban protective bubble. It gets ugly fast; just ask any CPS high school student. Big problems start small, do not "just happen", and can occur anywhere. Its a very scary truth that OPRF has to face early and honestly.

Former OPRF Student  

Posted: February 14th, 2012 12:51 PM

Unfortunately, s**t rolls down hill. Try not to vilify security. Unfortunately, school politics mirror other politics, and you have your peers' behavior and knee-jerk administration to thank for the heavy implementation of seemingly frivolous policies. Security has a job to do, and their rights are often trampled constantly by THEIR superiors. They often face unfair sanctions if/when they're even listened to, and they have families to feed. I admire your concern, but dig far deeper!


Posted: February 10th, 2012 3:19 PM

Wearing ID's and having a closed or partially closed campus are not onerous requirements. We had similar rules in the 90's, before 9/11 and before Columbine in the NW 'burbs in schools that didn't have drug or violence problems. I do applaud your thoughtfulness though.

Keep Thinking and Writing, Chris from Oak Park  

Posted: February 10th, 2012 8:34 AM

Chris, you are a thoughtful and articulate young man. Young people absolutely should think, question, and write about how the practices of their school might relate to those of the world at large. They should be able to challenge the assumption that actions in either arena that curtail liberties are outweighed by meaningful improvements in security. I am pleased that our community, despite its current challenges, is nurturing some critical thinkers and writers.

Taxes are too high for this school to go downhill  

Posted: February 10th, 2012 12:08 AM

I applaud this young man for writing an interesting and articulate letter, and acknowledging the pressure and scrutiny that his teachers are under. However, I also applaud OPRF for trying to keep a safe and civil environment . I walk past the school often and I am appalled by the behavior going on right in front of the school. If OPRF doesn't maintain control they are headed in the direction of Proviso East and West, where there is ZERO discipline. Sadly those schools have become a joke.

A student  

Posted: February 9th, 2012 10:02 PM

Props to you for putting yourself out there and taking the time to do so. Not many kids do. But this article is bad. Comparing wearing an ID to actions taken to prevent terrorism is a stretch, and last i heard, a lanyard-free neck was not a fundamental human right, as you suggest. Wearing an id is somewhat inconvenient, but citing it as evidence of the failure of democracy is ignorant and absurd. Stop whining. Find something important to take a stand against.

A Friend  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 7:08 PM

(continued) take a productive and meaningful role in their own lives, and unfortunately their lack of maturity reflects badly upon those students at OPRF who bless the school with their hard work. I think that the administrators of our school may be a bit misguided in terms of how to achieve what they intend to achieve, but from my understanding, the administration is simply trying to keep OPRF out of the state of IL's dog house. With that said Chris, your heart is in the right place.

A Friend  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 6:57 PM

Chris, I commend you for getting this article out for the public to see, because it leaves you open to criticism from people who don't need to be held accountable for what they say. With that said, I think that your article is very well written and it is energizing to see your passion. I do think, however, that our school (which I attend) is merely implementing these new rules to fix an issue that they can no longer dismiss. A minority of the students at OPRF have not yet been inspired to...

A Parent  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 5:36 PM

It's not just fear of what students might do that caused OPRF's policy changes. It was concern about what some students actually WERE doing. A relatively small number of students were behaving in a way that threatened the safety of everyone, and impacted the learning environment negatively. The partial closing of the campus and the enforcement of the ID rule were responses to existing problems. As always, a small number of people screwed things up for everyone.

Anne Jordan-Baker from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 4:12 PM

Good for you, Chris. I think you make some excellent points. Another poster, "A Parent," is right, I think, in saying that essentially, the fear of what some students may do with more freedom and responsibility is what causes institutions to enact over more stringent rules. Personally, I think people require freedom in order to practice responsibility. Otherwise, you just end up learning how to obey rules to avoid punishment rather than how to make good choices for yourself.

A Parent  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 2:05 PM

Chris, you make your points clearly, but I think you're missing something. I suspect that you are a reasonable young adult who would behave appropriately without the rules you address. So would most of your fellow students. There are, however, some students who would (and did) not. Since rules at public institutions must apply to everyone, you've been caught up in the effort to modify the behavior of less responsible students. You have your classmates to thanks for these changes.

john duffy from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 12:10 PM

Chris, Your concern, outrage, is right on target. These impositioins reflect how we have come to fear not only our youth in the very schools we hope prepare them to act as responsible, civicly engaged adults, but how much faith some have come to place in a survelliance culture where more and more of our behaviors are becoming criminalized. It's time OPRF starts to look seriously at positive and restorative discipline approaches less school become even more dehumanizing.

Jason Gutelitis from OP  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 6:57 AM

Chris, "rules" are a way of setting and reinforcing limits so that individuals know what is expected and act accordingly. This ensures productivity and safety of the environment among other things. Most corporate and other professionals have an "i.d." to get into a building. Students wear them so that the adults can identify who belongs in the HS and who doesn't. Good workers earn bonuses, good students earn outdoor lunch. Welcome to becoming an adult.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2012 12:37 AM

Chris, the masses are asses and the people who have authority are told to control them, so they follow, because if they don't, then you already know what happens. Laws change to make sure what is illegal now will be legal when more laws change. You are being trained now to be use to full searches. The next generation after you, will complain less, and future generations won't even know what freedom was. 9/11 is easy to remember when we know 911 is for emergencies. You think Chris, and thats good


Posted: February 7th, 2012 11:09 PM

Chris, Encouraging letter. Start looking more broadly, start looking outside of the school, and into the streets more as you are. Change is difficult. From what I understand, I don't have issue with many of these new rules. However, the environment that is created by the security and teachers is important. One word: Organize. Get students together who feel similar, outline your grievances, with recommendations. Be responsible and thoughtful about them.


Posted: February 7th, 2012 11:06 PM

WOW. How insensitive. Are you an adult? This thoughtful, intelligent and courageous high school student submits a viewpoint and you take to undermining that with insults? I encourage you to write your own viewpoint and submit it with your name. Come into the public with your comments. I don't agree 100% with what you are saying Chris, but I am glad you are thinking critically. Are you old enough to vote?

Cry me a river from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2012 10:47 PM

Chris, stop drinking the Kool-aid from the Occupy crowd and some old hippies. You obviously write well. In time you'll be able to think for yourself also.

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