The Rule of Restriction

Last semester, during a particularly captivating assembly, Mrs. Cope introduced a new policy stating that everyone should stay 1.4 meters – yes, that specific – away from each other. This concept brought a lot of controversy amongst students and teachers at Graded. As argued by many high schoolers in this country, Brazilian culture is one in which people casually make body contact. However, Graded is a school with a variety of cultural backgrounds that allows us to thrive on its diversity. With that, Felipe Ramos, a Graded student who was born and raised in Brazil, was curious to understand the reason why the administration chose to compare a Latin American country with Romania: “our school is in Brazil, so why should we adapt to their rules?”

After interviewing students across different grade levels, it became clear that most high schoolers took what was said during the assembly as an extreme and redundant rule. Sophomore Antony Aidukaitis, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that “a 1.4 meter separation is too much to be apart from your friends. When you start policing people’s proximity to each other, you also start to police the culture we are a part of.” The Mormon culture, by the way, is highly based on self-preservation, so an extreme believer labeling this rule as foolish is alarming. Also, many students did not understand the motives behind the administration’s decision, explains Giullia Saraiva, “to make up a bunch of metaphors, jokes, and slogans [about this] – it just doesn’t make sense.”

Mrs. Cope, the associate principal in the high school, clarified what the message was supposed to express: even though Graded is a very diverse school, particular nationalities and religions “might not be as accepting of a couple kissing and hugging, so we are just trying to clean it up a little bit.” Notably, she brought up the topic of Brazilian culture and its “huggy-touchy” feelings, but added that the rule doesn’t apply to that, but instead the more intimate things that are not exclusive to any tradition. However, many of us still ask ourselves: why make the issue more complex by stating that we need to stay “1.4 meters” away from friends and classmates instead of more directly saying, say, to “not make out behind the building, stairwells, and others?”  

Interestingly, it was not only students who challenged this rule. Mrs. Schlesinger, the senior Academic Support teacher for the high school, was willing to express her opinion about it. She said that the slogan “Let’s Make Graded Romania Again” was “ridiculous,” because it reminds people of Donald Trump’s very own campaign slogan, “Let’s Make America Great Again.” She added that the America that Trump wants to go back to wasn’t “actually that great,” so she doesn’t want Graded to go backward in the same sense. However, she also understands the concept of not making out in the hallways, especially after her own kids asked her: “why are they kissing? Are they married? Are they going to have a baby?” Overall, perhaps the administration needs to understand that although there are times when a metaphor is necessary, other circumstances require a more serious and direct approach.