Guest Opinion: Two Urban students against the “Safe Teen Socializing Agreement”

Harry Krinsky and Charlotte Blanc, Guest writers

Read the parent guest opinion on the “Safe Teen Socializing Contract” by John M. O’Connell Jr.

As freshmen, we can eat on Haight Street on the first day of school. We have laptops and no Web site restrictions. We even participated in deciding on the grading policy, which will have a large impact on our high school experience. All this freedom is based in the trust that Urban has in its students — and the school’s belief that students who are treated as mature individuals capable of handling independence will grow into that capacity.

With this contract, the Parent Association is both questioning that trust and limiting that freedom, contradicting what Urban stands for. Our experience in the Peer Education Theater show was a prime example of how trust and communication are what we, as teenagers, need. It’s possible that some parents saw the Peer Ed show as an indication of the need for a contract. We couldn’t disagree more.

While neither the show, nor the members in the show meant to condone teenage drinking, we believe open dialogue about drinking is a necessity. The proposed contract threatens to eliminate that open dialogue, and destroys the two-way street of student-parent communication, specifically because conversations among parents will be “confidential” and parents, upon signing, will have an allegiance to other adults that takes precedence over the relationship they have with their children.

Talking to our parents about drugs and alcohol is hard enough without outside pressure. A student’s stance on drugs and alcohol should not be mixed with school policy or their peers’ parents’ opinions.

Abstaining from signing the contract is not condoning drinking; rather, it is creating a safe environment for students and parents to navigate the pressure of high school life together, without the interference of adults outside of the family.

We are only in high school for four years; the rest of our lives will not be constricted or guided by this no-drinking parental contract. Our parents won’t always be there. Neither will the contract.

Urban preaches in its mission statement that the school instills “a rigorous educational foundation to prepare them for college and beyond.” We’re grateful to go to a school that can offer us such implicit trust and respect. We expect the Parent Association will do the same.

Further Student Opinions

Urban Voices: Students at the Peer Resource Forum on Feb. 3, and on the Speak Up Forum, have been vocal about the Parent Association Agreement. Here are some selected comments by students.

Dear Urban community, by checking the little box at the bottom of this contract, stating that you agree, you have successfully revived and put back into effect the threat of an oppressive, tyrannical, and dictatorial Soviet Communism.

-David Leon (’11)

(The contract) will close opportunities for conversation by setting such hard and fast rules that don’t actually face the issues and don’t cater to the needs of individuals.

-Michela Weihl (’13)

Repetitively, generations disapprove of the actions of the next. It is neither Urban’s place nor obligation to involve itself in this ironic cycle nor the social/personal lives of their students to this extent.

-Timmy Gonzalez-Crane (’11)