Metal Detectors Create Frustration for Outer Borough High School Students by Leslie T, Sharlene O, Nabila A, and Mathilde W
After a fight outside the Mott Haven Campus in early February, metal detectors were temporarily installed at the campus’ main and rear entrances. Authorities have not identified all those involved in the afternoon fight, but a student from our school was attacked and injured, and different sources say a taser or gun was used.
From the time the devices were installed until their removal in March, students, faculty, school staff , and visitors were all required to pass through the detectors before going on to BLAII, New Explorers, or Careers in Sports. Almost everyone expressed frustration at the inconvenience, invasiveness, and stigma attached to the metal detectors–and, by extension, the campus. Ultimately, this recent experience has convinced us at the BLAII Times that metal detectors do more harm than good to students, teachers, and deans.
In New York City, 91,114 students go through metal detectors every morning. Of those, 48 percent are black students and 38 percent are hispanic students. At the same time, only 14 percent of white students in New York City go through metal detectors. This is an example of racial profiling – where students of color are seen as criminals.
Compared to other boroughs, the Bronx has the highest percentage of students that go through metal detectors. Sixty-two percent of Bronx high school students go through metal detectors, while forty-two percent of Brooklyn high school students go through metal detectors. In Manhattan, 26 percent of high school students go through metal detectors. In Queens, just 20 percent of high school students go through metal detectors, and at the time of this publication there were no metal detectors in use at Staten Island high schools.
According to the Brookings Institute, a non-profit public organization, low income areas oft en have higher crime rates than middle income areas. The Bronx has the highest concentration of low-income residents in New York. School officials believe that the presence of the metal detectors has decreased the number of students getting hurt at school.
We asked deans around BLAII if they wanted the metal detectors here.
“No,” Dean Richards said, “because the staff has to go through them as well.”
Many people especially disagree with the detectors’ location. Dean Richards said, “It should be in front of every school [entrance]; it would make our jobs easier.” Community members must walk around the whole campus just to go through the checkpoint, which takes time out of the school day. Students who usually come to school at around 8:20 are now showing up to first period late or not at all. Hannah Hernandez, a junior in BLAII, said ¨I feel like
we are untrusted. This school has no trust in us.¨ When asked if she wanted the metal detectors here, she said, ¨I feel that the metal detector isn’t going to make it safe, because the situation was outside of the school.” She explained: ¨Since Freshman year I have felt safe, but now I question my safety because of the metal detectors. If the school wasn’t safe then metal detectors should have included before.¨ We asked Hannah her thoughts on the location of the metal detector, and she stated, ¨The location isn’t fair because [BLAII students] have walk across the campus and we have
to climb [many sets of] stairs.¨
Another student, who wanted to be identified only by her first name, Jessica,
told us, ¨To be honest, I feel like a prisoner, and it’s so much work putting my stuff away.¨ When asked if she wanted the detector here, she stated, ¨ No I do not, it’s not [because of] something we did and we shouldn’t be punished for it. I won’t say that I feel safe with the metal detector because there are situations that could be bad that don’t require weapons.¨ When asked her thoughts on the location, she stated, ¨I don’t care about the location, I just want it to be taken away.¨
While teachers did not have to go through the scanners because of their DOE background checks, many still held opinions on the subject. Mr. Mastin stated
that he did not believe metal detectors were necessary because he thinks we have a safe community. When asked if he felt safer with or without scanner he said in both circumstances we are safe. However, he believes that “the location is an inconvenience especially for teachers who teach fi rst period classes.”
When the BLAII Times asked Ms. Getzel if she felt safer with the metal detectors, she responded: “To be honest I don’t think it has any impact.” She then continued, saying, “I used to work at Clinton where students go through scanners every day. It was a relief to know BLAII students are trusted. I [can] appreciate random scanning, but it’s concerning that it has increased recently. I think it’s okay if it’s necessary, but it changes the original culture of BLAII.”