Students look forward to experiencing the freedom of senior year—driving to school, missing morning or afternoon study halls, and squeezing as much out of the forty minutes of lunch as they can.  However, this year’s seniors walked into their first lower dining hall and were met with an unfamiliar adversary.  It wasn’t college applications; it wasn’t the workload of first semester.  It was a strange scanning device sitting on the table.

These new scanners are an implementation of a Genesis feature called Turnstile, which helps the school on two fronts.  First, the system allows the administration to know where students are at any point during the day based on where they scan their student ID’s.  As of now, this includes the more unstructured areas of the building: the lower dining hall, the guidance office, and the nurse.

This is not for stalking purposes; rather, in the case of an emergency, it is to let the school ensure that everyone is safe.  Additionally, it allows teachers to know where a student is if they are not in class at the beginning of the block, whether that be at the nurse’s office or at their guidance counselor.

Secondly, the scanners provide useful and insightful data as to where students spend their time during the school day so that the school can make necessary changes to improve efficiency.  This data was used for the first time at the beginning of this year with schedule changes—the administration was able to know exactly how many students went for changes, and on which days.  The school is planning to expand the use of Turnstile to track students’ visits to the media center and seniors going out to lunch—all in order to avoid wasting resources and time and keep students accountable.

However, despite the intent of efficiency, the current use of these scanners actually impedes students’ abilities to use their time in study hall effectively.  Many students use their study halls to seek extra help from their teachers.  But by having to scan in at the beginning of the block, students not only waste time lining up to get their IDs scanned, but are also interrupted if they wish to stay immediately after class for extra help.

Several students have already received cut slips for missing study hall.  Although they can just get the slip signed by the adult with whom they were working, this poses just another inconvenience that contradicts the original purpose behind the implementation of the Turnstile system.  If it is still not clear where students are with the limited use of the scanners, then perhaps it will only prove truly effective with application on a much broader scale.

To accomplish the original goal—knowing where students are at any point during the school day—these scanners would need to be in every classroom, or anywhere that students might find themselves during any unstructured time of the day.

Efficiency aside, this we-know-where-you-are-at-all-times approach to managing the student body is extremely reminiscent of a Big Brother-esque attitude.  Though legally, the school is allowed to monitor where students are during school hours, this policy demonstrates a relationship between the students and the administration so weak that students cannot be trusted to manage their own time.  The system creates a clear divide between the administration and the students, failing to promote the message that we, the North community, should be working towards creating a safe and effective learning environment together.

Despite flaws that still need to be ironed out, Turnstile has already proven its effectiveness in holding students accountable and providing data on student movement throughout the school.  Yet while the administration means well by using these scanners, in its implementation, Turnstile raises important questions about how much monitoring is too much.  And this system may just be crossing the line.

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