Backpacks full of valuables are strewn across campus and left unattended on a daily basis. Students believe their personal items will always be waiting wherever they left them, putting faith in their classmates’ honesty. The Honor Code is a significant part of our mutual promise to respect one another, with every person’s conscience serving as his or her guide. In addition, a top-notch security staff keeps watch over school grounds around the clock.
The problem is that students place more trust in this environment than is practical.
Thefts happen at our school, as they did last month, and it seems students have made them all too easy.
During this past weekend, 536 of 786 lockers at the Upper School were left unlocked. The situation was likely similar on the afternoon that athletes on an opposing team were strolling through campus and opening unlocked lockers. Three cameras and a laptop were stolen from these open lockers and from a backpack left unattended.
Though the items were eventually returned, precautions could easily have been taken to avoid the ordeal.
We support the school’s decision to tighten security for home games, but students should not depend on this change alone. They need to make an effort of their own.
Visitors are not governed by the Honor Code, and even within the school, our sense of mutual trust cannot be absolute.
We are not saying that the thefts were the victims’ fault, and we are not suggesting that students padlock their backpacks or install security cameras in their lockers. But students should be more aware of their belongings, especially with valuable items and over the weekends.
We need to be responsible even outside of the context of possible theft. Some students lose track of their things more often than they would otherwise simply because they seem so easy to replace. This is especially true with textbooks and sports gear, which are often left around campus and may not seem to cost as much as they do because students can pay for them with their ID cards, sometimes without even looking at prices.
Seniors will soon be in college environments that may resemble the real world more closely than their current school does, and they will need to know how to take care of themselves. They will be living without their parents and making their own decisions, and everything will be less fenced in. Leaving a dorm room unlocked or a laptop overnight in the library are not risks they will want to take.
Even sophomores and juniors need to learn how to exist in surroundings outside of the bubble that is Harvard-Westlake. Most of them will volunteer or intern somewhere outside of school during the summers, and that is just one situation in which they will be confronted with an environment drastically different from the one here.
It really should not only be during the summers that students are aware that they are part of a bigger world. The reality outside of this hillside campus should be part of students’ everyday lives.
Let’s not be the overly sheltered kids others expect us to be.