Pro/Con: Should Venice Have An Open Campus?

Nadera Powell and Estefany Huerta

An open campus fosters a positive, welcoming environment and makes students feel like they belong.

Nadera Powell, Staff Writer

Venice High School stands out because of its great academics and athletics and its open campus. Students enjoy their ability to be so immersed in the surrounding community. Putting up a fence along the front of the school would make the campus look like a prison.

The open campus offers students a chance to prove why adults can trust them. Trust is a two-way street, and it is important that young adults show the adults on campus that they can trust them by not leaving campus during school hours. 

Earlier this year, the Oarsman conducted a poll of 100 students and 84 said they preferred an open campus without a fence around the school. Those numbers show how the vast majority of students think the fence is unnecessary.  Many schools, such as those in South LA, are surrounded by gates in addition to a strong police presence. Youth leader India Jacobson from Crenshaw High School said, “ I wish I had the opportunity to be at a school where I can at least see the community and not badges. The kids who go to schools in West LA don’t realize how lucky they are.”

The lack of a fence around the school creates a positive environment for students because they don’t feel enclosed by barbed wire and bars. Not feeling criminalized can improve students’ relationships with staff as well as peers, and school can be a place where students look forward to go rather than want to leave. 

Students spend an average of eight hours a day on campus, and they deserve to have a sense of belonging to their school.

“I am content with the landscape of our school because it helps my peace of mind knowing that my time is shared as a teenager with all of the activities I am involved in, and the place where I spend most of it is beautiful,” said Venice junior Karen Nava. “It encourages me to want to be here, and I wouldn’t feel that way if there was a fence to box me in.”

The open campus can be considered a security risk where students can easily be able to come and go when they please, but it shouldn’t be reduced to that. 

As of May, there were 234 school shootings in the 20 years since the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, according to the Washington Post. These occurred nearly once a month, on average.  With the increase of mass shootings today, there is an advantage of having an open area for children to easily leave without having to be funneled through an exit. With a barrier such as a gate or fence, finding safety outside of school would be much harder and the active shooter would be able to target the exit.

  The campus is saving the school money because a fence would be an unnecessary splurge that will disrupt the school’s culture. With the new construction going on in multiple areas, a fence would take away from programs that contribute to student development such as the Dual Language Academy and Special Education costs. Those who are the most vulnerable would be affected the greatest, and the school itself would need to even more funds for remodeling. 

 “If the school was to invest in a fence, it would be backwards because why waste money having to build something that is not a pressing need for anyone. I think there should be investment in something like a fashion department before a fence is even considered,” said Venice junior Bella Rodriguez.

A strategically fenced campus can effectively improve student safety and prevent ditching.

Estefany Huerta, Photo Design Editor

Since the Venice High School campus is open to the public, it’s a place where anyone can do whatever they want in any part of the school. People can damage the school property whether it’s purposely or accidentally, such as breaking a window or breaking into a building, vandalizing with graffiti, and even harming our plants. 

Venice needs a fence to avoid issues like vandalism. According to a study by Handover Research, “Maintaining property line markers such as fencing may serve to establish ownership of school grounds and increase the respect of school property.”

Fences can also restrict entry and exit points to a few easily monitored areas and they also limit access to areas that are not highly visible. A fence keeps intruders from coming on campus.

Another problem with not having a fence is that with the huge open areas, students are more likely to ditch school. It’s too easy for students to walk off campus if they don’t want to be in school or simply want to grab some food. The open spaces also give the opportunity for students to come back on campus the same way they got out or through other available open spots. Adding an ornamental fence with vertical bars around our school would make it harder to leave school without permission. 

Unfortunately, gun violence has grown over time and there have been more school shootings. Parents are afraid that a school shooting can occur on their kid’s school campus. CNN claims that this year, there has been 45 shootings in 46 weeks. That’s an average of one school shooting a week. Because Venice has such a large campus, a fence would help with security efforts. Our school’s security personnel are understaffed to the point where counselors have to do supervision duty, when that’s not their job. 

While a well-positioned fence can certainly improve the security of the school, it won’t fix everything. A fence should only be used alongside other safety measures to keep our school safe.