The couch controversy is a fight for Foothill culture

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The couch controversy is a fight for Foothill culture

William Flannery

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Two weeks ago, Foothill Technology students stormed onto the lunch area stage to protest against a district mandate to remove something dear to our school and culture: couches. Yes, pupils spent their lunch rallying over a nonessential luxury that is to be evicted from our classrooms. But this uproar isn’t that of crazy kids and a ridiculous need, but of preserving our unique school environment that shouldn’t be tarnished by removing our couches.

To start off, the reason for taking the couches is ludicrous. The Ventura Unified School District’s insurance company has deemed the couches a massive liability to the district’s responsibility for damages in the event of a fire. If we think about this from their perspective, it makes sense to reduce the amount of fire hazards that are inconsequential to a learning environment.

But that is a baby-proofing mentality. We are adolescents.

There are numerous flammable objects in a classroom setting (including the human body), many of which we could teach without: students don’t need desks to learn– a spanish teacher here at Foothill, Josiah Guzik, has been teaching deskless since he began instructing here. Pencils can be removed in favor of a strictly oral based education, and who needs paper with the internet at our fingertips, provided that the electronic devices don’t combust themselves.

The point is, all of these seemingly essential classroom settings are in reality not required to learn. Do they enhance and ease the learning experience? Yes, but we could still teach in a blank, square room, even if it’s slow and frustrating. So what difference does one extra item make? Couch or not, a fire is going to rage across any average classroom.

But what makes these couches so special? Why are students clamoring to keep that one extra item that seems completely irrelevant to a teaching environment? It’s because you’re looking through the wrong lens; instead, you should be looking through that of Foothills environment and culture.

Not to sound pretentious, but the couches are part of what separates our school from others. They are a sign of hospitality and acceptance from our teachers to their students, a comfortable presence that strengthens the bond between pupil and environment.

On our breaking news article, we received an anonymous comment from a foothill alumni on how the couches affected their experience at Foothill. “Spent most of my senior year on Eulau’s couch in AP Gov” the alumni stated. “They are a big part of the relaxed culture and “non-co[n]formist” attitude Foothill is known for.”

Furthermore, the removal has affected current students just as much. “I feel like that, on our off time it lets us relax and keeps us more focused” stated junior John Eberle, who thinks that our school will become banal without couches. “Foothill is like a special school” Eberle explained, “but taking away our couches makes us more normal.” As you can see, the couches are more than just a seat with cushions, but an embodiment of Foothill spirit.

This is why so many protested the District’s demand, because they feel as if part of Foothill is being stripped from them. We have already begun questioning our culture, and if it is changing, with the inclusion of sports bringing a new class of students that have to juggle their academics and athletics, or the bomb threat that seemed, until now, impossible in our secure and amiable environment.

To many, things are changing, and for the upperclassmen that can remember a “classic” Foothill, taking these couches is a deliberate attack on the past, on the memories they cherished.

The truth is, we don’t have the power to combat the insurance company’s decision and we will inevitably lose our couches. But, hopefully the passionate demonstrations on the stage show how important this piece of Foothill is to us; how our unique culture is slowly crumbling away. Maybe we can reform, after all, there is talk of bringing bean bags into classrooms, but it should be remembered that this wasn’t a silly protest over couches, but a fight to preserve our culture.

 

Background Photo Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

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