Nathan Stubbs

Students fight for their right to cell phones and hoodies

by Nathan Stubbs

A ban on cell phones and hoodies on high school campuses this year has spawned a growing grassroots student protest. Aided by, what else, mass text messaging and social networking sites, students had planned to hold a protest Monday afternoon, but it was postponed due to the large response and need to obtain permits. A story in today's Daily Advertiser quotes one of the organizers, Acadiana High senior John Merrifield: “I want to do it the right way; the respectful way,” he says. “Overall, I want it to be a peaceful protest and I don’t want to break any rules.” The Facebook group "Lafayette Parish High School Students AGAINST Cellphone&Hoodie Ban!" now has more than 1,000 members.

Students may be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to cell phones. Lafayette was one of the last school districts in the state to allow cell phones on high school campuses. The phones were first banned at Lafayette high schools several years ago, then allowed back on campuses for the past two years with the caveat that students not use them during school hours. Persistent problems with students texting during class led the school system to reinstate the ban this year.

On the issue of hoodies, however, students seem to have found an ally in school board member Mark Cockerham. Cockerham has placed an item on the agenda for Wednesday’s school board meeting to reconsider the ban on hoodies. Cockerham’s reasoning is an economic one: The rule would force many families to have to replace their kids’ preferred winter coats. Students are planning to show up at the meeting in force to voice support for Cockerham’s motion.