Our school days don’t typically leave a ton of time for quiet moments. Usually, this is a good thing; from classes and clubs to sports and theater productions, there are so many different activities that every student can feel stimulated throughout the day. However, quiet, independent moments are equally important during busy days, especially ones that last from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. As a community, we should strive not to forget about that.
One way we could improve this is altering the headphone rule, which prohibits students from wearing headphones in public spaces except in the library or conference rooms, unless teachers grant permission. This means students can’t wear headphones in the halls, the Commons, and in student centers. Students often tune out the noise at school by reading books, quietly completing work, or listening to music, and while the first two are encouraged, this rule dissuades students from the third. This is especially true if people don’t want to use the library, which is often crowded, or the conference rooms, which are often taken. The intentions behind the rule are admirable: to encourage socialization between students and ensure they are not isolated during the school day. However, people who do not wish to socialize with their peers will avoid doing so anyway, often via one of the methods previously mentioned. Thus, if student isolation were a problem, it would already exist, and yet it clearly doesn’t. Halls are bustling with students socializing from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Some may argue that headphones make it difficult for students to hear important announcements. An easy fix for this would be to ban headphones only in the most public places, like assemblies and classes. However, outside of situations like these, this is not an issue. It’s not difficult to hear other people over headphones, and it is easy to motion to someone if they must remove them momentarily.
Plus, offering students more opportunities for independent moments during busy days is actually likely to increase socialization. When we feel recharged, we feel ready to be with others. If students were able to tune out the outside world for just one hour at school, we’d be more present for the remainder of the school day. Personally, I would love the ability to spend free periods listening to music while doing homework without feeling limited to just a few spaces on campus. Before stressful situations like presentations or tests, this would be especially useful.
In any case, this is an important change to make, since it is not realistic for anybody to be busy for hours on end without any downtime. While the BB&N community generally does a good job with this, there is always room for improvement, and the headphone rule is a key place to look.