BY MOLLY SLOAN
The hall pass has been a part of high school life for decades, even working its way into popular culture through teen movies and TV shows. At Truman, though, many teachers didn’t use passes at all until recently, when the district adopted the E-Hall Pass. As this new program is instituted, Truman administration is encouraging a crackdown on students without passes.
Teachers and students have been told that every student, regardless of why they leave the classroom, needs to fill out a virtual pass before they go. For many students, these new regulations have felt invasive and unnecessary, but others believe this is an effective way to keep students in classrooms and monitor the hallways.
In a lot of ways, virtual hall passes have proven to be more convenient and easier to navigate, but just like everything we digitize, they can take some getting used to. Junior Emily Binnicker sees some merit in the program: “I think the purpose is to get students to stay in class for as long as they can and not take as many unnecessary breaks.” In her eyes, the involved nature of creating (and approving) a virtual pass is an intended consequence of the program. If a student doesn’t actually need to leave the class, they won’t feel inclined to deal with a virtual pass. “It makes you think about whether you really need to leave because it is more of a process to leave the classroom,” she said. Whether this was intentional or not, students are less likely to leave the classroom because they don’t want to go to the trouble of using an E-hall pass.
On the other hand, students’ reluctance to use the new pass system can easily be seen as a drawback. Virtual passes are intimidating and unfamiliar, and there are limits on how many you can use, as well as how much time you can spend out of the classroom. Junior Clayton Hollinbeck notes that the new system has certainly succeeded in “making people angry.” Binnicker, too, worries that students with genuine reasons to leave the classroom will hesitate because of the virtual pass. “I think that it accomplishes its original goal,” she said. “However, I do think that it is limiting for students that have specific reasons that they need to get out of the class often and causes some worry about not being able to leave when they need to.”
A lot of the arguments against the new passes have centered around how strict their limits are. “They don’t give students enough time,” said Hollinbeck. “More passes should be issued per week.”
Binnicker argues that the new system is even more disruptive than stopping the class to obtain a written pass. “As someone who rarely uses a pass, on the one occasion where I do, it is a lot harder to get back on task because they take some time,” she said.
In terms of effectiveness, students seem to feel that there is no noticeable difference between the virtual and paper pass. Just like always, students come and go mostly as they please. “It seems to be relatively the same amount of people leaving class each hour,” Binnicker said. But in spite of so many complaints, students are willing to acknowledge that ultimately, the virtual pass system has served its original purpose. Because the whole process takes place online, these passes are convenient and keep things going smoothly, both in the classroom and outside of it. “The overall concept is organized in comparison to physical passes,” Binnicker said. “I think having a record of where students are going is helpful.”
Now that most students have settled into using virtual passes, they’re quicker to admit the ways the system has succeeded. Much of the backlash against them was just because they were unfamiliar. “I think they were a good idea that just became super unpopular,” said Hollinbeck. Like every part of our lives that we digitize, it takes some getting used to. Two years ago, Canvas and other online school programs seemed confusing and difficult to navigate, but now, the majority of students know them like the back of their hand. Every big change takes time and patience to adjust to–and the hall pass is no exception.