Athletes struggle with after school “dead hour” policy

Claire Gilliland, News Editor

Frequently students can be found laughing and talking in the quad after school, waiting for their sports practice to begin — and they may receive detention for this.

Ever since the administration has set mandatory tutorial sessions for student-athletes who have a C or lower in one or more of their classes, practices for sports have started later. Most sports begin practice at 3:30 now, which leaves a significant time gap between school and practice. Many places are open across campus for students to go, including the library, Club Bruin, tutorial sessions, and teachers’ classrooms.

“I always go to the library so that way I have access to books and I can get my homework done as quickly as possible,” sophomore Vanessa Moraes said.

“In hopes of avoiding detention my friends and I hang out in the classroom because campus security would practically interrogate us about our reasons for staying on campus after school (if we’re in the quad),” sophomore Kate Lagera said. “It’s just a very tedious act to have to explain ourselves for doing nothing wrong.”

However, there are many student-athletes and this problem raises a concern that there are too many to keep in one place. For track and field, a sport with approximately 170 student-athletes, this issue is easier to see.

“There is simply not enough room for all of the student-athletes in track and field to have a structured classroom to go to after school,” cross country and track and field coach Jason Johnson said. “In theory, the idea of being in a structured tutorial is awesome; but the reality is, we don’t have the space or resources to serve all of our track athletes, and further, all of the spring athletes in general.”

Often, when campus security personnel spot students in the quad after school ends, they warn them to leave or risk detention.

“One time I was sitting [in the quad] with some friends and we were playing a game on our phones and then we got kicked out because a guy was like, ‘You can’t be here,’” sophomore Helen Le said. “We were like, ‘But we have practice!’ And he was like, ‘Get out.’”

“I have not [given students detention for remaining on campus],” campus security guard Charie Pruitt said. “For the most part they comply [when asked to leave].”

Many students do have an extracurricular-related excuse to remain on campus, but the security personnel still try to clear everyone out and students don’t understand why.

“I don’t know their reason,” Le said. “Maybe they could tell me and then I’d be fine.”

“I don’t see what’s wrong with hanging out in the quad after school hours … these students participate in extracurriculars, it’s not like they’re vandalizing the school with their presence,” Lagera said.

“If they’re not supervised things can happen and things have happened in the past,” Pruitt said. “There could be a fight, somebody could walk on campus, there could be a lot of different things that could happen, so it’s for the safety of the students.”

With the quad not open for students after school, students are left wondering where they are supposed to go. Some coaches open their classrooms to students but, as Johnson said, these classrooms can quickly fill up and teachers may have meetings, so they can’t always be in their classrooms. Tutorial isn’t every day of the week, so some students don’t have a place to go.

“[Campus security] never really specified what we’re supposed to do if we don’t have these places to go to in between 2:10 and the beginning of practice,” Lagera said. “I guess they just expect us to sit under the solar panels in the parking lot until 3:15 and go change for practice.”

“[They can go to] Club Bruin or the library,” Pruitt said. “Those are their two main options, or just outside the gates. If they leave campus, they can go home and eat if their sport doesn’t start until a little later.”

Some have suggestions for even more places that could be available for student-athletes to go between school and their sports practice.

“I think we need to have some open places on campus where athletes can gather to socialize, complete homework, or rest before their practices,” Johnson said. “One idea of a place may be an open gym (with adequate supervision), or allow the students to swim, or possibly a designated area outside to congregate and soak in some sun and have a chance to simply be kids.”