New locker policy installed for safety purposes; some students displeased

Ivy Frater, Editor, Campus Beat

If you’ve walked around DePaul Prep lately, you’ve possibly noticed zip ties attached to dozens of lockers around the school. Maybe you’ve gotten the Schoology messages alerting you to the new locker lock policy introduced this semester. Following the introduction and enforcement of this policy — that all students must keep their locker locked when not in use — some students have wondered why it has become a major focus.

This policy is common in other schools, such as multiple Chicago Public Schools high schools around the city. For instance, Senn High School’s policy is that if you do not keep your lock on your locker, they will chain it up. That being said, Senn sophomore Sima Pollack said, “I haven’t seen a single locker chained up yet.” 

This locker policy is also common in different Catholic schools. St. Ignatius’s handbook does not specifically detail the enforcement of locking lockers but does mention that use of a locker that is not your own will result in punishment. Loyola Academy also has a lock policy, enforced for similar reasons as DePaul Prep, to prevent theft of student items. 

DePaul Prep’s policy was implemented in phases, starting out with the deans sending Schoology posts to all students reminding them to put their locks on their lockers. On February 10th, the deans announced via Schoology posts to the “Class of” pages that beginning the next week, the deans and assistant deans would be walking around to see what lockers are being used or not used and, “As part of our efforts to keep the school clean and safe, we will be putting zip ties on any unoccupied lockers.” They also explained that if students did not have locks on their lockers, any items in those lockers would be removed.

After this post, some students voiced their annoyance with the new rule. Sophomore Kyle Nagy disagreed with the rule when it was first announced and commented on the Class of 2025 Schoology Page’s post written by Dean Pagan. His comment stated, “I refuse to use my lock,” and fellow students commented their annoyance with this new rule in response to his comment. Reflecting on this, Nagy said, “In the moment I decided that I was not going to take the oppression from the system. I wasn’t going to be a sheep, I was going to be a shepherd.” 

After this, DePaul Prep’s deans went around the school looking for empty lockers that were not in use and putting zip ties on them, to make sure that no one was putting their items in lockers that aren’t theirs. As part of this process, they removed any items being stored in unlocked lockers, including trash that students had left. Dean Lord notes that there has been an uptick in students bringing in their school-assigned locks already, as a result. 

It is important to note that the problem of students not putting their locks on lockers is not new. It has existed even before the new campus was built, when students were still at the Gordon Tech campus. Dr. Stanton-Anderson says that many people did not want to use the “gross” lockers back at the old campus, so when the school moved to its current location there was an emphasis on utilizing lockers and their respective locks. Especially with the rule regarding no use of backpacks during the school day, the majority of students do use their locker, but many keep their locks off or unlocked, leading to the implementation of the new policy.

One major reason for the lock policy was to prevent stolen items, taken from lockers. Lord notes that, “if your items are locked up, chances are things won’t get stolen or misplaced” While there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in thefts this year, there have been some reports of stolen items, especially of expensive products such as apple pencils or iPads. 

Some students don’t see the need for this, in particular if they have not gotten their own items stolen. Some explain they do not keep expensive or important items such as iPads or Apple Pencils in their lockers. 

For example, Sophomore Caysie Brady explained, “The only thing I have in my locker is an empty Altoid can, so I don’t care if people go in my locker.” Sophomore Emily Blackmond shared a similar view and noted that she has never had any of her items stolen, except for her lock.

Dean Lord responds to these concerns by saying, “I think that students should know that [the new policy’s] about safety first and also making sure that we are being responsible. We’re only here to make sure all students are supported and taken care of.” Dean Lord explained that even though some individual students might not feel concerned about their items being taken, it is ultimately the school’s responsibility to implement procedures that keep all students and their belongings safe.

Additionally, some students disagree with the rule because they don’t want to lock their lockers. Sophomore Caitlin Torio explained, “I’m not as fast as other people, so I can’t put all my stuff in and lock my locker before class.” This sentiment was shared by other students, who feel that locking their locker takes too much time in the morning and will hinder their ability to get to class on time and avoid tardiness. School administrators have reminded students that arriving to school earlier is one possible way to avoid this problem.

However, these negative views on the lock policy are not shared amongst all students. Although Nagy had strong feelings when this locker policy was first announced, he now states that, “I still think it’s a dumb rule, but I don’t really have a problem with it because [administration is] not enforcing it at all.” Nagy expressed the view that the rule isn’t being enforced harshly. This might be because specific consequences vary and are determined on a case by case basis, according to Dean Lord.

Another reason behind this policy was to make sure no illegal or illicit materials were being stored in unused or unlocked lockers. Dr. Stanton-Anderson explained, “Let’s say someone brings a gun to school. They don’t want it traced back to them, so they put it in your unlocked locker — and then who gets in trouble? You.” 

In this way, unlocked lockers can be considered a safety concern. In the past, the school’s Safety Team has discussed the evaluation of our school by a specialist in preventing school shootings as justification for policies such as mandatory IDs and locked classroom doors. However, this policy is not included under that rationale. The new “locks on lockers” policy is working in conjunction with other rules such as mandatory IDs and locked classroom doors to attempt to make DePaul Prep a safer place. All are working to reduce the possibility of an intruder entering the school and to prevent potential harm with illicit materials being brought and hidden on campus. 

While students understand this concern, some aren’t worried about this happening, as there are many other safety precautions put into place that could prevent this from happening, such as mandatory IDs and no backpacks around the school. Nagy notes that he’s not worried about that happening because, “there’s security cameras [around the school].” 

While some students might dislike the lock policy, it isn’t going anywhere. Dr. Stanton-Anderson says that it will not change in the future.