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PDA, rules create controversy

Lockers slam and general pandemonium ensues as the bell rings for class. Amidst the uproar a student leans in to kiss his girlfriend goodbye. However, a teacher calls out for the couple to ?get to class.? They quickly hug and walk in the opposite direction to their classes.

Many students feel that the campus rules regarding public displays of affection [PDA] are unnecessarily severe.

?While I think students should be able to monitor their own behavior,? David Bethea, ?08, said, ?I believe a couple can find other ways to show their affection to each other.?

Students see the need for rules and some are not just for the couple, but are also for the benefit of others.

?Public displays of affection are not for anyone to see,? Michael Wills, ?06, said. ?This is an etiquette issue. Showing public affection can make other students who do not have ?someone special? feel left out. I wish the rules wouldn?t have to be so strict but I guess it is needed.?

Administrators argue that their standards are not particularly demanding.

?I get complaints from some students who say that we don?t enforce rules enough,? Principal Gary Schultz said. ?You have to realize, only 20% of students here break the rules. The rest of them have no problem abiding by the guidelines.?

Few students complain about rules not being enforced strictly enough, but the inconsistency with which they may appear to be enforced frustrates many.

Principal Schultz believes that every student is different and therefore requires a different course of action to be taken in reprimanding them.

?The very first step in enforcing rules is counseling,? Principal Schultz said. ?If you?re convinced they have learned and will not continue committing infractions, then further actions are not needed. Some people just need severe consequences to keep them from continuing their disobedience.?

Students may argue that enforcement by the letter-of-the-law rather than by the spirit of it needs to be taken into consideration.

?I don?t see a need to put so much emphasis on enforcing the minor infringements like side-hugging someone,? Andrea Munoz, ?06, said. ?Yet administration needed to place some kind of restriction that couples should abide by. But staff cannot prevent students from liking each other. It just happens.?

Finding a balance between too much control and not enough regulation is hard. Most parents and teachers will admit that they have not found a perfectly correct equilibrium.

?Mostly, I look at what history has proven,? Principal Schultz said. ?I look at what has worked and what hasn?t for other schools and administrations, and then our own.?

In the instance of PDA, administrators feel there is level of maturity that comes only with time and experience.

?Teenagers are really too young to be dating,? Principal Schultz said. ?They have not found themselves enough to be able to experience love. It is inappropriate conduct for school. If they are doing that much in public, one has to ask what they?re doing in private.?

Few issues bring more argument than this one.

?Dating can help students become more mature but it takes time and experience,? Wills said. ?Julianne and I have learned that spending time with our families is more fun than going on a one-on-one date.?

Still, most students manage to follow the guidelines.

?Being an affectionate person, it is really hard for me to not show physical attention to that special little lady,? Josh Wright, ?05, said. ?But rules are rules, and the faculty definitely isn?t changing, so the students just have to curb their behavior with their boyfriend or girlfriend.?

Nation-wide statistics show that the majority of adults have not proven themselves much more responsible or mature than teenagers.

A recent study revealed that 51% of marriages end within 15 years. In the year 2000, there were 4.2 divorces for every 1000 people in the U.S. (

?There are good examples and bad examples for every situation,? Principal Schultz said. ?The key is to look at those adults who have done it right. They are the examples.?

Time, experience and observation of those who model ?acceptable? conduct can teach anyone. There will always be contention between the subjects and those imposing rules, so students have to simply trust that the faculty has earned the wisdom to lead.

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