With the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, Mishawaka High School (MHS) has adopted a new policy concerning the use of earbuds on school grounds. The ban applies to all class and passing periods, allowing their use only during lunch and before school.
Sophomore Dean of Students Sean Steinkellner explained, “It became an issue… earbuds are one of those things that we found not only was a safety issue, but it was allowing people to ignore staff freely on some of the dress code, ID’s, things like that… Specifically, if there’s something we need your attention for. Say there’s a drill; we need to be able to communicate.”
Steinkellner continued,”We want this to be a stable, safe environment for students to learn… It’s for safety. It’s for staff morale. It’s for a learning environment.”
While other rules have been met with opposition in the past, the prohibition of earbuds has been particularly controversial. To some, earbuds are a block to the learning process, giving some students one more way to ignore a teacher. Earbuds can be used to get around the ban on phones in class, allowing students to listen to podcasts or music; almost as distracting as texting, but less noticeable.
“I’ve seen kids sneak them, yeah. In some classrooms, the teacher can’t see that when it happens,” said senior Faith Quintana.To others, earbuds are an essential step to learning. MHS senior Skylar Norris said, “music helps me study.” Earbuds are not only banned in learning classes, but also officially prohibited in study hall and advisory. Many teachers provide students with 30 minutes or more for homework or studying at the end of class, during which the teacher doesn’t lecture. Quintana claimed earbuds would “make it more quiet at the end of class, not less.”
Steinkellner understands the stance of average, abiding students: “What I feel bad about is there’s plenty of kids that can use earbuds responsibly, but rules are never made for the responsible people…” But Steinkellner believes the change isn’t the administration’s responsibility: “If they want rules to change, maybe run for student government, and become involved.”