Opinion: Underclassmen should be allowed off campus during lunch


A look into how the off campus lunch policy affects students today

Stella Muzin, Arts and Entertainment Editor

CESJDS gives high school students a lot of freedom, however we lack the ability to leave campus during free periods. At JDS, juniors are allowed to walk off campus at lunch, while seniors can drive off campus. There is no flexibility to this rule, and in the past year those who have violated it have been punished with suspension. But why have such a strict policy that doesn’t seem to make much sense? 

High School Principal and Head of Upper School Campus Dr. Lisa Vardi says that the policy has been this way for a long time, but she has not been afraid to ask questions about it and suggest that it should possibly be looked at.

While I understand the purpose of the rules against driving for underclassmen, juniors who have their driver’s licenses should be given the ability to drive off campus. I find this rule particularly weird because sometimes juniors will obtain a driver’s license before some seniors, however they still can’t drive off campus. 

At our current school building, we are lucky to have a large shopping center with kosher food options across the street, so why not take advantage of that? I understand that allowing students to drive is more complicated and dangerous, but walking should at least be permitted. Restaurants like Siena’s and Goldberg’s Bagels are located right across the street, so allowing  students to visit these locations should be the minimum. 

Numerous students have been punished this past year for violating these rules, even when the reasoning behind it was innocent. 

For instance, sophomore Dino Becker was suspended earlier this year for leaving campus to get lunch across the street because he didn’t like the food being served at school. 

“I didn’t like the food being served in the cafeteria and was hungry so I decided to walk across the street,” Becker said. “Obviously I regret it, but I don’t really think the suspension was justified and I don’t fully understand the policy.” 

Becker isn’t the only student who was suspended after attempting to leave campus to get food during their lunch break, and he’s not the only one who thinks the school should change their policies. 

“I don’t really see a reason for the school to stop the sophomores and freshmen from walking across the street,” junior Nofar Granit said. “The cafeteria often doesn’t offer a lot of options and some people end up not eating at lunch because they don’t like school food.” 

The current lunch policy does more harm than good, as for many underclassmen who don’t like cafeteria food, they will likely end up skipping lunch. This is promoting poor eating habits in teens. 

“If there are requests for a change in policy, they [students] should come to me as the Head of the Upper School campus,” Vardi said. “So I would say if students are feeling like there’s not enough choices in the cafeteria, they could come to me and talk to me about that.” 

Vardi acknowledges the complaints about the policy, however she thinks it’s also important that students understand that the policy wasn’t created in order to punish them. She herself is unaware of the reasoning behind the policy and is willing to reassess it.

“The goal is that students get a good lunch so that they have the energy to engage in their learning the rest of the school day, and then also to have a tasty lunch as well,” Vardi said.

The policy doesn’t seem to have been looked at in a long time, and as a school community, it’s our job to make sure that rules stay up to date. Although I would propose a change in policy, it would at least be helpful for the administration to review the off campus lunch policy and update it accordingly. 

“If students want to see a change in policy, I would entertain that for sure. If they would come and speak to me about it or give a proposal as to what they’re looking for,” Vardi said. “Absolutely, we can talk about what that looks like.”