Opinion: Students should be allowed to eat away from the Dining Hall

When I was in sixth grade and attending Seabury Hall, students could eat wherever they wanted: in the dining hall, in the gym, on the tables in the upper school, and at many more enjoyable places. Lunch used to be a time when a student could find any seat he or she desired. Students were able to sit beneath the trees and enjoy the cool afternoon breeze. Now, sadly, that little freedom has been taken away and with it the tranquility of eating lunch.

Lunch is a free block where students can fuel their exhausted bodies from the stimulating task of learning. It is a time when socializing and relaxing is okay, but ultimately it is a break from all the havoc of demanding teachers and annoying classmates.

This restricted free period enables us, the students, to eat in only the boundaries of the dining hall. Seabury Hall’s dining hall was made for the students who boarded or went to the school when there were only a hundred students in the whole school.

Today, Seabury Hall has about 300 students in the upper school alone. The small cafeteria was not made for that many people, and even with the added tables outside, the students and the faculty do not physically fit in the dining hall.

Every day, I watch as the tables fill up with hungry students, squeezing every inch of the tables to fit one more person. Small round tables can support ten students when they are supposed to comfortably sit only five. Having these packed tables creates no space for eating, making lunch a stressful time, which is the opposite of what a lunch period is for.

This extra stress contributes to students learning environment and could affect their grades in the long run.

The faculty of Seabury Hall also have trouble finding tables without students and sometimes when a teacher comes to lunch late there are no tables to sit at. Instead of eating in the courtyard or in their classrooms, they cannot finish their lunch as quickly as they could. From this delay, teachers cannot relax and enjoy their lunch; instead, they have to rush to their classes.

The restriction during lunch time was proposed in the middle of my seventh-grade year because trash was littered all over campus due to students freely eating wherever. The heads of the school did the sensible thing and restricted eating to the dining hall after many warnings to the students. This punishment was only supposed to last for a couple months, but it dragged on year after year making it three years since the rule was established.

I think that the students have learned their lesson by now. Experiencing the horrific consequences of this rule, students and faculty alike agree that it is time to change the restrictions to free eating locations. The students have paid their penance, and they realize the consequences of leaving trash. The officials should give our school a second chance because now it is affecting the students’ learning environment and the faculty’s working environment.

Students understand that the campus should be kept clean and to pick up after themselves. Littering is a serious matter, and Seabury Hall’s student body realizes that. They understand that it is a school, not a dump. If the heads of the school abolished this rule, students would appreciate the freedom and keep their eating area clean. The lesson is learned and now it is time to be rewarded.

It would be nice to be able to get out of the dark, cramped dining hall to a table in the upper school courtyard where I could actually hear what my friends are saying. Eating peacefully would release the stress of finishing my food quickly for space in the cafeteria.

I would not have to worry about getting a seat and having to sit on the ground. I could get my lunch quickly and find a space anywhere on our huge campus. We should use the campus that is so beautiful. Without boundaries, lunch would be enjoyable and peaceful, not stressful.