An open campus is defined as, a privilege granted to leave school grounds during their unscheduled time. (Upper Merion High School) The goal of this is to give students the opportunity to develop personal responsibility with their extra time during school hours; however, only students which meet the administering schools requirements are given this privilege. The idea of an open campus often sparks debates between students, parents and school administrators because of the possible side effects from granting this ability. Although a controversial issue, an open campus is a good thing for schools to allow and by granting this ability it is giving the students in the schools more motivation for success.
A topic which often arises with the idea of an open campus is what the students will do with their time. Many parents and administrators feel that students will use this time in ways that will hurt both themselves and their success in school. They constantly feel that with the students away from the supervision of teachers, parents and fellow peers it will allow them to partake in the use of illegal substances such as drugs and alcohol. These people often feel that the students are putting themselves at a greater chance for getting in trouble with the law or peers. The problem with this is that the groups of people who share these beliefs are commonly naive to the way an open campus functions and due to their lack of understanding it gives them negative views of an open campus.
The way an open campus actually works is that it allows students to leave school grounds during school hours; therefore, the policies of the school still apply to the students once they leave the schools grounds. Drug and alcohol use is heavily debated as one of the major problems which would arise from an open campus. The Pennsylvania Department of Education set these standards for drugs and alcohol in a school:
Possession/Use/Sale/Transfer Of Controlled Substance And Or Illegal Substance (Class I,II, III, IV, V drugs or ALL controlled, rx prescriptions) – The unlawful use, cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale, transfer, solicitation, purchase, possession, transportation, or importation of any controlled drug/narcotic substance or substances representing a drug or equipment and devices used for preparing or taking drugs or narcotics. Infractions include being under the influence of drugs while in school, on school transportation, or at school sponsored events. Possession/Use/Sale/Transfer Of Alcohol – possession of alcohol on a person, who was caught in the act of using, transferring or testing positive for use, (Pennsylvania Department of Education).
Based on these rules applicable to all public schools in Pennsylvania, there would not be a change in the way a student would act with an illegal substance whether they were in school or are away from school due to an open campus. The Pennsylvania Department of Education also has guidelines for any form of violence, crime, vandalism, or illegal act which would put the students in the same position here as it would with them concerning an illegal substance. Along with these many people are worried about the fact that if students leave they may not return for the rest of the day. In a situation such as this where the schools policy on tardiness, absence and truancy apply the student violating these policies would face the same punishment as they would if they did not have an open campus. This also applies to if the student violates the schools policy on illegal substances, violence, crime, etc.
Although these seem to be significant issues, the fact remains that an open campus is still beneficial to students as well as the community. The most common time for students to leave campus is during their lunch. Because of this students are constantly going to local stores and restaurants; in turn, this leads to local businesses doing better and giving the specific town/city a more growing economy. In an article based on the benefits of an open campus, Adam Kaye included a quote from a local business, High school students “mean a lot to our business,” Ralph Rubio, CEO of Rubio’s Baja Grill said of his restaurant in the Del Mar Highlands Town