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Clear Backpacks Don’t Clear Minds

by Kelly Langevin

Imagine your school having to be so cautious of every single item entering and exiting your backpack that the privilege of wearing colorful fabric on the back of your shoulders has been stripped away. Survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida returned from spring break with rigorous safety measures that are doing just that.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School first made headlines on Feb. 14 for the mass shooting that took 17 lives. Now, the high school is back in the spotlight after the new “mandatory clear backpack” rule has been administered.

The students face security barriers and bag checks as they now enter campus. Inside the school, administrators hand out see-through backpacks to those who don’t own one and identification badges that must be worn at all times. That is insanity.

Although the reasoning behind the clear backpacks and badges is to ensure student and faculty safety so another tragedy doesn’t happen again, it is mind-boggling that this course of action even had to be taken in the first place.

It’s more than just a backpack and lack of self-expression, it’s also the loss of privacy and sense of normality that the students had left. This is no longer a school by any means, but a place of utmost fear transforming educational walls into prison cells.

As a result of all of this, students sparked a movement calling for stricter gun laws, while the school administration ultimately issued clear backpacks as a mandatory requirement for coming to school.

Now, students are attaching an orange price tag to their bags. The $1.05 tag is intended to protest politicians, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who accepted money from the National Rifle Association, by putting a price on each student. In other words, the $1.05 price tag hanging off of students backpack represents the amount they believe they’re worth to both Rubio and the NRA.

Your life is worth more than any dollar amount. Your child is worth more. Your cousin, niece and nephew are worth more than a purchase of a clear backpack and ID badge issued to a name.
I fear my three little cousins, who haven’t even reached middle school, will have to grow up with mass shooting drills and that will become the new normal.

I am used to lockdown drills and having to be quiet and sit far from windows and doors. Now, nine out of 10 public schools hold mass shooting drills, something I did not have to go through.

I fear my three little cousins will one day have to text their parents and friends, “If I don’t make it, I love you and I appreciate everything you did for me,” something I did not have to go through.

I fear this world we live in is becoming too accustomed to tragedies that the definition of this word is no longer just letters of the alphabet, but instead people’s names.

Clear backpacks may become standard, but they will never clear minds.