Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students returned to campus after the “March for Our Lives” and a week-long Spring Break, but they are finding it hard to adjust to the new security measures put in place— especially the widely resented clear backpacks.
It must have not been easy for students to walk into school and get greeted by armed police, wand detectors and clear backpacks. No wonder some students said the security measures made them feel like they were in prison.
So we got clear backpacks today. They never said we couldn’t customize them. pic.twitter.com/QMwC0pAM4v— Sheryl (Oli) #neveragain (@tsukkiu) April 2, 2018
The clear backpacks were a part of added security protocol at the high school, as outlined by the school district's superintendent Robert W. Runcie in a letter sent out on March 21. The regulations were placed after the February 14 school shooting in which 17 people were killed.
However, the notion of carrying clear backpacks have been unpopular amongst the students since the beginning as they correctly pointed it out the shooter wasn't a student, nor did he hide anything in a backpack.
Nevertheless, thousands of clear backpacks were distributed across Douglas.
Thousands of clear backpacks and lanyards were distributed today at douglas. They’re just an illusion of security. pic.twitter.com/Bz7yaL2cdN— Kyra Parrow (@longlivekcx) April 2, 2018
Many students believe carrying clear backpacks is a stark reminder of the tragic incident and is a blatant invasion of their privacy.
"It's difficult, we all now have to learn how to deal with not only the loss of our friends, but now our right to privacy. My school was a place where everyone felt comfortable, it was a home away from home, and now that home has been destroyed," said junior Kai Koerber.
The shooting prompted the students to lobby for gun control and now some students are using the clear bags to make a political statement.
Koerber and others attached an orange price tag to their bags. The $1.05 tag is intended to protest politicians, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who accepted money from the National Rifle Association, by putting a price on each student.
"We are doing this in order to demonstrate the fact that we stand together on all issues, and that we, as a student body, refuse to be reduced to nothing more than dollars and cents," Koerber said.
My new backpack is almost as transparent as the NRA’s agenda.— Lauren Hogg (@lauren_hoggs) April 2, 2018
I feel sooo safe now.
As much as I appreciate the effort we as a country need to focus on the real issue instead of turning our schools into prisons. #clearbackpacks#MarchForOurLivespic.twitter.com/HqBIeGjzF9
“This backpack is probably worth more than my life,” read a note that a student, had penned and stuffed inside her bag.
The idea of using clear backpacks for security reasons is not something being practiced for the first time; schools across the country have enforced similar rules since at least the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
However, the widely held belief is, the clear backpacks isn’t a solution to gun violence howsoever, and many students think that instead of addressing the real issue such a measure is only window dressing.
“I hate the backpacks, and I think they solve nothing,” said Alyssa Goldfarb, a 16-year-old sophomore. “It’s more of a way of the county saying, ‘Hey, we’re doing something.’”
Several young school activists took their disaccord to Twitter.
The people with the power to make changes keep making the wrong changes; no matter how much we tell them to listen to us there will always be a backpack manufacturer saying, "Hey they need clear backpacks, we got you covered,"...— Emma González (@Emma4Change) April 3, 2018
These clear backpacks accomplish absolutely nothing. Not every item placed in the bag is visible and there is no possible way to monitor the contents of over 3000 backpacks. It’s great to know that this is where my community puts its resources.— Kyrah Simon (@kyrahsimon) April 2, 2018
In addition, the students are also stressing upon the fact how having transparent bags is an invasion of privacy as no longer menstrual products, prescription medications and clothing/undergarments can be hidden.
Starting off the last quarter of senior year right, with a good ol’ violation of privacy! pic.twitter.com/Glf9C14dsq— Delaney Tarr (@delaneytarr) April 2, 2018
This amazing young man filled his clear backpack with tampons in solidarity with the girls and young women at their school.— Leah McElrath?? (@leahmcelrath) April 3, 2018
They give me hope.
P.S. Clear backpacks are security theater and serve to disempower our children further, not make them safer. https://t.co/iCF4SboqZm
On the other hand, some students took a slightly lighter tone to mock these clear backpacks on Twitter.
The only good things about clear backpacks are the photos pic.twitter.com/lwhd9qsT6d— Ellen K. Pao (@ekp) April 3, 2018
The worst thing about these clear backpacks is that I can’t lie & say I don’t have gum.— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) April 3, 2018
PSA: given these new clear backpacks, you will now be able to see that I have my phone charger with me. No, you cannot borrow it (you can’t have any gum either)— Tyah-Amoy Roberts (@xotyahmarie) April 2, 2018
Students of MSD aren’t wrong to think such a measure is meant to pacify them whereas the real issue continues to exist. Also, apart from physical impracticalities of it, such a safety measure may hugely affect the productive school environment.
Banner Image Credits: Reuters, Mary Beth Koeth