Stuyvesant and Lockers: The Right or Wrong Combination?

An investigation on how Stuyvesants students utilize their lockers.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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By Aishwarjya Barua

Every Stuyvesant student is familiar with the daily routine before the first bell of the day—the walk across the Tribeca bridge, the satisfying beep of the ID scanners (or perhaps a birthday song)—and for many, a visit to their lockers.

In classic high school movies like “Mean Girls” or “The Breakfast Club,” lockers are unforgettable—they’re the place where boy meets girl, where dares and duels are held, and where bonds are broken and ties are made. Though not as compelling as the lives of fictional alter egos, Stuyvesant students use their lockers for a wide variety of functions, whether it be for school, after-school activities, or midday-snacks storage spaces.

For many students, lockers serve as a rite of passage from middle to high school. These students had to learn to adjust to locker-life upon entering Stuyvesant. Freshman Ilana Livshits recalled her first few weeks adjusting to Stuyvesant, or more specifically, Stuyvesant’s lockers: “A really funny story was that because [my middle school], Mark Twain, didn’t have lockers, I was being a dumb freshman, and in the first weeks, it was really difficult to open my locker, and once, I just went home without taking my stuff out.” Livshits’s situation, however, is not unique. Sophomore Sabrina Chen, for instance, also did not use lockers in middle school.

“We used to have closets instead of lockers where we dropped off our jackets and picked them up at the end of the day,” she said. This alternative approach, however, created major issues. Chen stated that her belongings often fell from the closet hooks, and at the end of the day, bags, jackets, and notebooks would be scattered in complete disarray.

Some Stuyvesant students prefer the middle school version of lockers. In the middle school that an anonymous freshman attended, lockers served as a form of personal expression and community. Students often decorated their lockers, and during birthdays, they would adorn friends’ lockers with stickers, heartfelt images, and birthday gifts.

For some, lockers serve a more practical purpose. Junior Kaitlyn Lee was not provided with a hallway locker in middle school. She believes, however, that she would not have used it much anyway: “If I did have a locker in middle school, I don’t think I would have used it as much as I do in Stuy now because I had a lot less traveling to do. My school was only three floors,” she explained. Now that Lee has ten floors to climb and much more of a burden to carry, Lee appreciates the accessibility of lockers a lot more. “They make life at Stuy a little easier,” she said.

Sophomore Kripamoye Biswas agreed with Lee: “Some schools don’t have lockers, and then they have kids with broken backs.”

While some love lockers for their convenience, others don’t agree. It’s a tradition at Stuyvesant for upperclassmen to have priority to lower-floor lockers. As a result, freshmen are faced with a major inconvenience because they are assigned lockers on the eighth, ninth, or tenth floors. Freshman Aaron Hui spoke for a majority of the freshman population at Stuyvesant when he described the inconvenience of having a locker on such a high floor. “You have to go all the way to the eighth to tenth floors, so that’s quite inefficient, especially during passing,” Hui shared.

Livshits echoed this issue but found the journey up worthwhile: “It’s a real hassle that I have to go up to put my coat away when my first class is on the lower floors, but it’s better that I don’t have to carry a coat.”

The discontent brought on by the system led to some students selling, buying, and sharing lockers, all of which are against the rules of the school. Assistant Principal of Security, Health, and Physical Education Brian Moran expressed frustration about students breaking these rules. In a big school like Stuyvesant, a lot of work needs to be put into managing and maintaining the lockers, so student cooperation is necessary.

“There’s not a need for students to share lockers, but ultimately [there’s a rule] because we need to know who has their stuff where. In the event of an emergency or any kind of wrongdoing, we need to be able to know who they’re assigned to,” Moran explained. “In addition, there are times when things get lost or stolen because students are sharing and selling. We also want to make sure that there’s not an inequity going on because what happens is when there is buying and selling of lockers, people with money have the ability to pay for things and wind up with better lockers, and to me, that’s not fair.”

Additionally, this year, some freshmen were given gym lockers in the fifth floor hallway due to a shortage inside the locker rooms. Though it may be inconvenient when it comes to changing for gym, many freshmen found them more convenient than their high-floor hallway lockers. “Because I have a hallway locker for Phys Ed, I don’t see a need for my actual hallway locker,” Hui shared.

While the shortage of gym lockers has given some freshmen a more convenient alternative to their regular hallway locker, this scarcity has not made other students, mainly upperclassmen, as happy. Seniors, for example, find their hallway lockers to be not convenient enough to compensate for their lack of gym lockers.

Another issue comes with the fact that freshmen have an assigned “locker buddy.” For many, the situation is uncomfortable because many of the students sharing a locker are complete strangers who don’t trust each other entirely. Though Hui is not bothered by the idea of sharing lockers, he sympathizes with those who are. He said, “I can see why some people dislike the idea because if someone does something bad, both people can get in trouble for it, so that’s the one aspect I dislike.”

Moran recognizes the inconvenience these shortages have brought and revealed, “We are ordering more lockers for both the locker rooms and the hallway because our enrollment keeps going up, so we’re hoping to fix that so that just about all students will have a Phys Ed locker inside the locker room. […] If we had more hallway lockers available for the students, that would also be good since freshmen, as it is right now, share [lockers].”

More positively, some students find themselves making new friends by being paired up for lockers. Biswas shared that though she was initially uncomfortable, she was glad to get to know her locker buddy as a very nice person.

Whether lockers are merely long-lost time capsules or a key necessity for high school life, students—and Stuyvesant as a whole—can unlock a more convenient life for all.