Many of KO’s practices encourage students to advocate for themselves. Whether it’s meeting with an advisor or teacher in order to work through a problem, or voicing your opinion to the student government, self-advocacy is a major part of being a student here.
The paper is yet another platform for students to voice their opinions. Over the years, the editorial board has written articles that bring attention to the most pressing issues at KO. A look back at what we’ve covered recently reveals that while some changes have been put in motion, there is still more work to be done.
The start of a new school year, along with the beginning of Interim Dean of Students Kata Baker’s term provides a great opportunity for the administration to refocus on balancing the concerns of students with the realities of KO policy.
During the 2020-2021 school year, KO relaxed its dress code in an effort to create a more comfortable learning environment during such a stressful time. Coming out of the pandemic, the school returned to its previous dress code, with two notable changes: the implementation of “Spirit Days” every Wednesday and the permission of jeans. Despite these changes, KO remains tethered to its dress code, regardless of students’ opinions.
Calls to amend the dress code by members of the KO News far predate the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students point to the more casual dress codes of other area independent schools, wondering why KO has been slow to change. In fact, it appears that KO is taking it in the opposite direction this year, placing a new emphasis on rigid enforcement of the dress code.
We are not asking for a total dress code overhaul, but rather more consideration for students’ personal situations. It is unrealistic to expect students to go out of their way to purchase KO gear specifically for Wednesday spirit days as well as non-hooded outerwear for colder months. We understand the need to have a “school appropriate” dress code to an extent, but it’s crucial for the administration to acknowledge that the current parameters force students to spend money on a wardrobe specifically for school.
Perhaps the biggest issue that KO students face on a daily basis is parking. While we appreciate the efforts that the school has made this year to address these matters, the fact remains that parking is far too hectic. It is all too common for students, many of whom are new drivers, to be late to class in the morning due to the chaos that is in the parking lot.
Students have suggested that parents who drop their kids off commonly contribute to this issue; many pull into spots that should belong to students, or sit in the drop-off line for far too long, crowding up the lot. If KO desires to accommodate its students, it must recognize all of the factors that contribute to this problem.
At the end of last year, the editorial board published an article outlining the many disparities between girls’ and boys’ athletics here at KO. Both JV and varsity volleyball teams, for example, have one jersey while many teams at KO have two sets of uniforms. Players from each team have to provide their own shorts and having only one jersey puts more wear and tear on them compared to teams who can alternate between uniforms.
Despite leadership for the varsity program reaching out to the athletics department, no action was taken during the summer. Players must now grapple with wearing jerseys that are worn and smell bad. Now, more than ever, change must happen if we claim to value boys and girls programs equally at KO.
Lunch duty is yet another issue at KO that has gone unaddressed by the administration. While we admire that KO is trying to instill responsibility and cultivate independence within students, the chore has caused upset among many, especially upperclassmen.
Last year, seniors were spared from this responsibility and given the opportunity to enjoy their off-campus privileges. Unhappy juniors were told to look forward to their senior year when they would no longer have to do lunch duty. Still, multiple students attempted to stand up for themselves by bringing their concerns to the administration.
The assurance of change was ultimately unfulfilled and seniors are now required to participate in lunch duty along with their underclassmen peers. Even though students made an effort to self-advocate, lunch duty doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
While we recognize that not every idea can be feasibly put into place, self-advocacy can only go so far if students’ voices are not responded to. KO should take this opportunity to take the opinions of the student body into account and attempt to engage in a dialogue in regards to these issues.