Heath Padgett – “Bring Back the Backpack”

Awaiting the first day of school at Westminster as a freshman, I quickly hurried into the school building to prepare for class; yet one major article seemed to be lacking. This article, which I had previously organized in neat pockets with multiple pens, pencils, etc., was my backpack. All summer long, the excitement of using a new, organized (and expensive) backpack struck my pondering mind. However, when that dreadful morning arrived, I walked the halls for the first time in months with a huge void on my back. The reason for this void was due to the fact that school administrators had banned backpacks in the classrooms in order to create more space for new students. On the contrary, the “solution” of banning backpacks has caused many more problems than it solved. By pursuing this unnecessary path, more halls are clogged, more property is damaged, and more people are inconvenienced. In order to solve the previous problems, school administrators should bring back the backpack with a few alterations.

Initially, by eliminating the backpack, halls are becoming more clogged during breaks and during class switches. One of the reasons for congestion is that students drop their class supplies very easily as they carry their things through the hallways. I know the previous example from experience. Day after day, I continue to drop one item after another, causing more and more items to fall, until everything is finally on the ground being trampled on. This not only causes slight anger and impatience from the people behind me but also embarrassment for myself as I sit helplessly on the ground trying to regain my possessions. Following this flaw in the system, the principles of math demonstrate that backpacks take up less space in the hallways than by carrying books. The reason for this is that in a backpack books are stored and carried vertically (saving space), while by carrying books by hand they are held horizontally to prevent dropping. Many teachers agree that without backpacks the halls are more clogged, but they also think that the classrooms are more open and spacious. The outcome is not because of the removal of backpacks per se; but rather that there is, yet again, another rule. This is the rule that only two subjects worth of books can be carried at a time. If this rule were applied in accompaniment with backpacks, then even more room would be made available in the classrooms. This principle has been demonstrated with the girls’ giant bags, which are much larger than most backpacks. The bags are only allowed to hold two subjects worth of materials in them so the result is much slimmer than last year (2011-2012); but if the principle were applied to backpacks, then the result would again be much greater. This is because backpacks are taller and narrower than the giant bags and horizontal books so there would be more usable area (length times width) in the classrooms. Another way that the previous rule (two subjects per bag) would be much more beneficial with backpacks is due to the guys in the school. Since most guys do not carry around giant man purses (European man bags), their books are scattered along the floors and tables of each room. This causes a lot of clutter and waste of valuable space. If they had the more manly backpacks, then the problem of space would be eliminated. Therefore, because of the aforementioned examples, by removing backpacks, the amount of clutter increases.

Another fateful side effect of removing backpacks is that great amounts of property are damaged and destroyed. As I walked through the hall, I looked out the window and noticed that rain drops poured onto the ground. However, as I travelled across the quadrangle to arrive at my next class, my books were being drenched by the downpour. Walking into the next classroom, the amount of damage was astounding. Now I would be faced with high replacement fees for the textbooks. Not to mention, Westminster uses textbooks that are out of print and hard to find, leading to even higher costs. Would this cost be necessary if I had had a backpack to protect the books? Consequently, without the added protection of a backpack, books suffer a greater amount of abuse on a day-to-day basis. In a backpack, books and other various articles are safely and neatly stored, leading to the protection of the books during transportation and arrival upon the destination. Without backpacks books are dropped, kicked, and stepped on, resulting in damage that could have easily been avoided. Therefore, by removing the backpacks, more problems, such as abuse to property, are created than the single benefit of creating “more space.”

Finally, the removal of backpacks causes great inconveniences to the students of Westminster. Students have many pens, pencils, whiteout, etc., to carry around with them at all times. However, when one of theses articles runs out or breaks, then the student is left with nothing. The core of this problem is that the average student cannot carry many extra supplies with his or her already full hands. On the contrary, a backpack has been designed by paid professionals with neatly inserted pockets and dividers for all such supplies, while the entire time trying to use the least amount of space as possible. Uncomfortably stuffing my pockets with extra provisions, I am one of the few who is able to help those who do not have extra supplies with them. I happily lend others supplies without regret since I know firsthand how hard it is to keep up with so many little trinkets. Also, another inconvenience is that it is nearly impossible to keep with oneself personal items such as facial tissues and first aid kits. With a backpack, I was always the person at hand to come to during class when minor wounds would occur. I was always prepared for nearly any situation, with all types of bandages, tissues, and many other articles. Now, however, I cannot do so. I can no longer be the good Samaritan that helps people who are hurting around me. Instead I have to just pass by as the Pharisee did to the wounded Jew in Luke 10:25-37. Along with the inability to act Christ-like (as we are supposed to do according to Westminster’s mission statement), I cannot easily protect myself from morning allergies. Every morning I am stricken with an annoying runny nose but can only carry limited amounts of tissues with me. Now what will I sneeze onto if my scanty supplies run out? Therefore, once again, by taking away rights and privileges of the students (also known as the backpack), more problems are created than solved.

In the end, the elimination of the backpack was meant to create much needed space. However, with a limited amount of space comes a limited margin for error. This limited margin was not accomplished by removing the backpack since backpacks are specifically designed for storing schoolbooks in the most organized and orderly fashion. Clutter is defined as a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass. If Mr. Hinton was to give a tour of two separate classrooms and asked his visitors, “Which room seems to be more cluttered; the room with books neatly stored in backpacks, or the room with books thrown about the floor with nothing to contain them?” Which room would the visitors choose?

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