Forbidden Freedom: Why You can’t Leave School


Catherine Mcintosh, Reporter

“Closed campus” is a term very well known around OHS. Opinions from administrators and students on this matter are so different that it may be the one thing that keeps us all divided. One side wants safety and control while the other wants freedom and a piece of adulthood. Both sides have a valid argument in their eyes.

The phrase “closed campus” is pretty self explanatory. Principal Matt Grant explains the reasoning behind this policy, “I think the biggest reason why we keep people on campus is safety. Students leave to go eat lunch and then have to race back because they only have a half an hour for lunch.” He also goes into detail about drug and alcohol dependency, saying, “People who have addiction problems will leave your campus, will use, and will come back.” A less talked about reason for closed campuses is the social aspect of this policy. Grant says “I feel like there is a real ethic of wanting to have everybody at the school, since school is important. Not just what you learn in the classroom but the people you are around and I think part of the reason for a closed campus, in my opinion, is social. If you are going away every time there is a break to see other people, you’ll never get to know people outside of your circle,”  which is a great point.

The opposing argument comes from students. Junior Jonas Hellwig does not have a good relationship with OHS being a “closed campus”. He says, “Closed campus means prison life. It’s like being grounded. You can’t leave. We are in high school and we should be able to leave and do whatever.” He isn’t alone with this stance as Junior Andrew Liu believes, “…this policy is unneeded especially because we have a bunch of other schools in the area that have an open campus such as North Thurston and I feel like we are not given enough freedom during lunch so that if we were to go out and get some food it wouldn’t be too far of an extension on what we already have.” But why should students be allowed to leave if school is meant to be the main focus for teens throughout the weekdays?

Hellwig puts his opinion to this question into a very simple answer, “Because school sucks,” he says laughing. He continues, “For me it’s just usually to get food.” Liu adds a similar opinion. He says, “People may forget stuff at home and [lunch] would be a great time to go get it.” He goes on to propose a compromise for the two opposing sides, “Maybe a better policy is to have open campus at certain times of the day like maybe during lunch and beartime.”

Since many students here at OHS have or are planning to skip while school is in session, it is important to note that if caught, students are subject to disciplinary actions. According to the Olympia High School Students Handbook, “Students who are not excused to leave campus are subject to, discipline, suspension, or expulsion.” Parents may also be called or emailed about the policy broken and the student may also be searched and questioned by an administrator when caught. OHS has a three-step discipline process which may not be well known but can be applied to being caught leaving campus. The first infraction is a warning from the teacher. Step one consists of notifying the parents and the students being sent to ISS for one day during a particular class period. In step two, the parents are contacted and the student is sent to ISS for three days during a particular class period. Step three is when a teacher may recommend that the student be dropped from the class or remain with a behavior contract. The student will also remain in ISS until the drop is processed.

It is obvious that leaving campus is a common thing among high school students and that many would like the “closed campus” policy to be removed but it is also important to note that there are two sides to every argument. OHS is also not unique with this policy as Capital, Tumwater, and Blackhill High School are also all closed campuses. Be sure to be aware of the consequences that come with being caught and always try to make good choices.