The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Library punishments under review


The Student Council recently held a discussion with the librarians on the issue of punishments in an effort to quell the rising tension between the librarians and students. The librarians have received much criticism from students in past months due to ostensibly unjust punishments.

Head Librarian Karen Field, who said that behavior exhibited by students has not changed over the years, expressed the frustration felt by librarians when trying to make students happy. “When [students] have a free block they are breaking rules and talking loudly, and when they have work to do they are mad at us for not keeping [the library] quiet,” she said.

Field also expressed the challenge of retaining uniformity across five librarians. “I do see we need some consistency, but it is hard to be consistent with five people,” she said.

Student Council Vice President Adam Koren (’14), who is leading StuCo’s effort for library punishment reform, said that the intention is to solve the problem with the librarians before the situation worsens. “[Student Council’s] goal is to meet with the librarians and discuss ways to better our relationship so as not to have the issue reach a culminating point with strict regulation and students being sent to the Student Faculty Disciplinary Board (SFDB),” he said.

SFDB President Leland Swift (’13) said that the tension stems from a lack of a communal space. “The problem is that people use the library as a gathering point where we can do work, which you can’t really do in the Commons,” he said. “I think that either the library needs to recognize itself as a gathering point for High Schoolers, or ASL needs to make an alternative place where they can work.”

Koren indicated that a source of the tension between librarians and students is a lack of consistency regarding the punishments administered to students for various infractions. “The main challenge is the issue of uniformity, in the expected uniform behaviour of respect and appreciation on the student’s behalf, the punishments themselves, and the librarians in deciding when to punish,” he said.

High School Principal Paul Richards said that harsh punishments will not resolve the issue. “Rather than having draconian rules such as banning students from the library, we need to try and find a different solution,” he said.

Richards said that flexibility on both the librarians’ and the students’ side is key to reducing the tension. “We need to be clear on expectations on how not only students should behave but how the students should be treated by the adults and how the adults should be treated by the students, and fill the void with a really clear statement on values”, he said. “Everyone has to do their part.”

Koren also indicated the Student Council’s intent to carry on the conversation with the librarians in hope of generating more solutions. “Our committee will continue to meet and hopefully continue our conversations with the librarians so that we can work towards an even more concrete solution,” he said.

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