Survivors of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, returned from spring break Monday to new security measures that some students said made them feel like they were in prison.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students encountered security barriers and bag check lines as they entered campus Monday morning.
Inside the school, administrators handed out the students’ newest mandatory accessories: a see-through backpack much like the ones required at some stadiums and arenas, and an identification badge they must wear at all times.
The bags were yet another stark reminder of how much had changed since a former student stormed the hallways on February 14, gunning down 17 people, junior Kai Koerber said.
First, students lost their classmates and teachers. Now, with the bags, they’re sacrificing their privacy for what he and others consider an ineffective security measure.
“It’s difficult, we all now have to learn how to deal with not only the loss of our friends, but now our right to privacy. My school was a place where everyone felt comfortable, it was a home away from home, and now that home has been destroyed,” he said.
’This backpack is probably worth more than my life’
The shooting galvanized a student-led movement calling for stricter gun laws, and some students used the clear bags to make a political statement.
Koerber and others attached an orange price tag to their bags. The $1.05 tag is intended to protest politicians, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who accept money from the National Rifle Association, by putting a price on each student.
“We are doing this in order to demonstrate the fact that we stand together on all issues, and that we, as a student body, refuse to be reduced to nothing more than dollars and cents,” Koerber said.
Senior Delaney Tarr tagged Rubio in a tweet of a picture of her bag with feminine products and the orange price tag attached to it.
“Starting off the last quarter of senior year right, with a good ol’ violation of privacy!” she said in another tweet.
In addition to displaying the orange tag, senior Carmen Lo stuffed a sign into her backpack that read “this backpack is probably worth more than my life.”
She also wonders how students will carry sports equipment, instruments and laptops.
“Many students are actually unhappy with the clear backpacks, as they believe that it infringes on their privacy, so they wrote messages on pieces of paper and put it into the clear backpacks,” she said.
“We come to school to learn, so I don’t think that we should need to subject ourselves to these measures. We shouldn’t need to worry about our safety and our security while we are at school.”
Solution or pacification?
Koerber thinks metal detectors would be more effective than clear backpacks.
“Just implement a system that works. Similar to what they do at court houses and the airport!” he said. “It’s terrible that girls will have no privacy concealing their feminine products, and these bags won’t last a week with real textbooks in them. Metal detectors are a better solution.”