Opinion: Campus should be open for students to get lunch

Students would benefit from the increased responsibility.


Photo by Jessie Shelly

In the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, students approaching the RHS parking lots during lunch were met with a huge surprise. At the front of every exit were our security guards, denying students access to their cars and off school grounds. This caused a plethora of feelings throughout lunches, as we had just learned that our off-campus lunches were coming to an end.

The times leading up to lunches seemed to get more chaotic as time went on; students door dashing in class, plotting their escape so they could leave without getting caught, and students trying to slip out of class early to avoid security.

As a student myself, I use my lunch as a chance to finish homework, hang out with friends, and buy food I can stomach. I understand staff trying to solve student concerns by suggesting getting food delivered or sitting in a classroom during lunches, but those solutions aren’t for everyone. Door Dash is expensive, and I guarantee that teachers don’t want a crapload of students in their room while eating or planning.

Technically, PSD schools are not allowed to give off-campus lunches, as district policy 3242 stipulates that all PSD campuses are closed. However, I think it is interesting that our district doesn’t want to give students that privilege. Even though there are cons to having off-campus lunch, like giving students the opportunity to make bad choices while unsupervised, and even posing safety concerns like car accidents, it offers a chance for students to prove they can be trusted and practice time management skills. If off-campus lunch is viewed as more of a privilege than a necessity, then why has it been taken away before we have had the chance to prove we can handle it?

To get to the bottom of this I decided to schedule an interview with the principal of Rogers High School, Jason Smith, who has worked here for almost nine years. After being asked why off-campus lunch was removed, he responded, “there was never off campus lunch, ever since I’ve been here, we’ve always had closed campus.” In the past, being able to leave campus was a matter of lax enforcement. And for students wondering why we were able to eat in our cars last year, that was due to Covid safety precautions, but was put to an end because of the district policy.

Smith continued on to say that because both Emerald Ridge and Puyallup are following through with strict enforcement of the district policy, Rogers must follow it as well. However, students who are truly concerned and need accommodations during lunch can schedule a meeting with Smith to figure something out.

School spirit at Rogers seems to be at an all-time low, not just in students’ opinions but teachers as well. Overhearing the students of Rogers, many are noticing that things here feel a little depressing – nobody is hype to be at school anymore. Not having the freedom to leave or spend the 30 minutes of lunch time as they wish is a heavy contribution to the overall mood at the school. Lisa Ath, a student at Rogers High School, said “I felt so much better when I was able to go to my car. I was able to come to class with a full stomach.”

Even though it may seem like it’s not a huge deal, small things add up, and feeling micromanaged or like you have no say in the matter is a real killer, especially if these feelings are school wide. As covered earlier, last year lunch was allowed to be eaten in cars due to Covid safety reasons, and students mentioned they did feel a lot better when they had that option. Staff has proposed solutions to students like Door Dashing food, but it seems like they forget we are broke high school students. Yes, it still costs money to go and pick up food, but it costs less than Door Dashing every day in the long run.

There are so many ways we could help students feel more satisfied with their lunch experience at Rogers. For example, handing out off campus passes as a privilege for students with good grades and attendance. Even adding more food options or hosting food trucks so that students can still buy food they prefer and stay on campus.

I believe that as students we should have at least gotten more of an explanation on why we weren’t allowed to be in our cars and get lunch off campus. If there had been more transparency on why it was happening, then students wouldn’t have felt as outraged. If you have any other ideas on how to make our lunches better or solve this issue, don’t hesitate to bring it up to your second period class representative so that your ideas can be considered.