Bruin Bucks add to school spirit – but fall short of changing behavior

With every school year, new changes made at the district level trickle down to affect student experience to different extents. However, the administration’s sudden push this year for encouragement of the “Bruin Way” in the materialistic form of “Bruin Bucks” has us wondering whether the hot commodity actually improves student behavior.
The Bruin Way system was implemented as part of a Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS). The Bruin Way is part of Tier One, the first step in a voluntary multiple-step system designed to improve student behavior and to impact every student. This new intervention system includes giant Bruin Way posters placed in every classroom, the Bruin Bonanza’s introductory slideshow by Link Crew and the Bruin Store — where students can “spend” their Bruin Bucks on merchandise.
The system was fully adopted last year, but it didn’t seem to do what it promised: promote positivity with rewards and move away from punishments that focus on negatives, but it’s hard to force smiles and good behavior, especially on hormonal high school students. That being said, it’s doubtful that the new “intervention” has had more of a positive influence or improved morale more than any other system in the past.
But the whole system isn’t just meant to fix puberty; the campus morale is meant to improve. Last year, the Bruin Way was often ignored and joked about, because few take good intentions seriously. Everyone laughed at the teachers who offered them Bruin Bucks, because no one wanted anything from the Bruin Store. Repping cheesy BC merch? Sincerity? No teenager would be caught dead.
Something happened this year, though. We’ve all seen the long, winding lines every lunch in front of the Bruin Store. Everyone wants Bruin Bucks, and everyone wants something from the Store. So, it must be reasonable to assume that because Bruin Bucks are only given out to the students who display the Bruin Way, morale across campus has improved, right?
Wrong. Totally wrong!
Bruin Bucks have done the opposite of encouraging positivity, despite the honorable intention. Because of the cutting and shoving in the line in the front of the Bruin Store, or because the number of swearing, yelling, and general rowdiness heard every day has not decreased, or because the bathroom vandalism has not declined, or because the only way we got a Bruin Buck was by stealing it off a friend’s desk, or because even though they’ve become more desirable no one takes the message behind Bruin Bucks to heart — we will make the obvious conclusion that the promotion of the Bruin Way has done nothing to actually improve campus conditions.
All it’s really done is create a riot-like thirst for a hot commodity that is not, and will never be, truly taken seriously.