May 1971

Dr. Watson comments on open campus at South: Explains variety of disadvantages, legal limits
no author

   Dr. Watson, principal, in stating his opinion on the feasibility of open campus at Maine South, reviewed the Illinois State Code, which includes a clause on student attendance.
    The Code requires that a student be in school a minimum of five clock hours each day; according to the wording of the Code, he 'must be in attendance' in order to obtain state aid. Dr. Watson added that the code does not set a maximum of hours because of various scheduling systems throughout the state.
    Dr. Watson also mentioned the question of liability. "It has always been, and is still on the books, that from the time a student leaves home in the morning until he returns in the afternoon, he is under the jurisdiction of the school. This is called loco parentis.
    "As to how high schools in the area who already have open campus avoid the attendance and liability clauses, Dr. Watson said, "They probably avoid it because nothing has happened. If something did happen, however, the decisions by the court would be individual."
    ....Dr. Watson cited many disadvantages over advantages. "If one defines open campus as a situation where a student would only be in attendance for his classes, then I believe that there only some students in the school who would be able to handle this kind of decision making as to whether or not they would come to school." "The majority of students would not be able to function properly. Top students who are motivated will do well regardless of the scheduling system. They will not be affected either way. "Unfortunately, the majority of students are not top students. They have more time on their hands; they would probably leave the school more readily. Yet at the same time, they need more contact with the school through counselors and deans."
    Dr. Watson pointed out another disadvantage as the creation of a traffic problem. "If students are permitted to leave the school, they would be creating traffic hazards." "Fifty percent of the students come to school by bus. We would then have to have buses come at all hours. The bus company informed us that this would put more expense on the students or otherwise they cannot provide services."
    "Open campus would drastically hurt the extracurricular activities available at Maine South, which already have a tendency to be limited with early dismissal," he emphasized.
    Dr. Watson also pointed as less major difficulties that cafeteria service would be hampered, building supervision would be more difficult and discipline and control of smoking would be less effective. He also commented that fewer students would be taking on an extra solid if they knew they could leave school. "Another disadvantage is that the library would not be used as much."
    Dr. Watson also commented that an open campus would invite "undesirable people" to the school which may disrupt activities. Dr. Watson concluded that open campus would not meet the needs of the majority of students and "we must regulate schools as society is regulated, according to the will of the majority."