A policy worthy of reviewing

Tomorrow, I will bring my spork to the dining hall. That’s right, I said it. Tomorrow at 2 p.m. I will be at the Grundel enjoying a meal with my combination camping utensil.School officials, take notice. While I will certainly be using the small knife section of my spork to cut food rather than a classmate, I understand that it is fair to assume that I pose a threat to the student body by bringing my hazardous eating utensil to school. Sound absurd?While there may not be such a strict policy here at UVM, circumstances similar to the above scenario actually occur quite often in elementary schools  through high schools across the country. Many education systems have implemented the Zero Tolerance Policy within their school systems over issues such as weapons, bullying, drugs and alcohol. The policy, no matter the circumstance, requires that anyone caught violating its rules will be severely punished for their abuse.This includes bringing knives of any type to school, even if it will be used merely to eat lunch.Recently in Newark, Del., a six-year-old Cub Scout was caught excitedly using his folding fork, knife and spoon to eat with in the cafeteria at his elementary school. Though the boy meant no harm by bringing in his utensil, the school treated the tool as a weapon that violates their Zero Tolerance Policy. The child was suspended from the elementary school and ordered to spend 45 days in Newark’s district reform school.   The situation is certainly outrageous and unfair.   However, school officials were only acting in accordance with the rules of Zero Tolerance — pass no judgment, reduce no punishments and do not by any means justify the circumstance.    As unfair as this boy’s dilemma seems, I appreciate the intention behind Zero Tolerance. It is crucial for school officials to provide a safe environment for their students. Yet, it would be more effective to implement a school-wide policy in which those who jeopardize the security and well-being of fellow classmates be given fair consideration and punishment if found guilty for their misbehavior. Zero Tolerance policies should be revoked.  Student violators and their cases should be reviewed and closely measured for their severity and intent before slapping any type of punishment on the adolescent. Unfortunately for children like the Delaware Cub Scout, Zero Tolerance does not yet permit the chance for examination of the violator or the particular situation. The Zero Tolerance Policy lacks justice and case deliberation.  It forces violators unworthy of severe punishments into reform schools and other inappropriate sanctions. It is time that the policy is replaced by a system more in line with our values and the rationality we claim to have. Perhaps the “Genuine Consideration Policy” will do.