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Disconnect to Reconnect: new experiment on Eye Street

Sign+in+Lower+commons+that+is+in+place+to+remind+students+of+the+Disconnect+to+Reconnect+experiment.+Photo+by++Jon+Bouker
Sign in Lower commons that is in place to remind students of the Disconnect to Reconnect experiment. Photo by Jon Bouker

The Gonzaga Student Government recently announced that there will be a two-week experiment called Disconnect to Reconnect that starts May 3  where students will not be allowed to use any devices in the Lower Commons during lunch periods. The purpose of this experiment is to promote students to interact with each other more during their lunch periods instead of being so focused on their phones. As a senior here on Eye Street, I believe that this will be a positive experience for all of us in the Gonzaga community. 

Both teachers and students will not be allowed to use their devices in the lower commons, meaning that if you are seen using a device you will not get JUG; instead, you will be asked to go somewhere else to use it. I think that this is a really good way of approaching this experiment because it does not make it something that you have to do or else you will get in trouble. Instead, this experiment becomes something that other students and teachers will encourage you to do. I believe that because of this students will be more inclined to follow the rules of the experiment and actually see how it goes, instead of trying to rebel and use their phones and try not to get caught.

Over the course of my four years at Gonzaga, it has always been apparent to me that students use their phones and computers a lot during their lunch periods. I understand that this is a break in the middle of the day and one of the only times when students are generally allowed to use their devices freely throughout the day. However, it is still sad, to be frank, to see students needing to use devices to entertain themselves instead of spending time with their friends. This is also the only time during the day when students are really allowed to spend extended time talking with their friends.

My hope for this experiment is that students will realize that they do not need their devices and instead will start to value their time with their peers more, especially the students in the senior class because the time that we have with all of our friends on Eye Street is quickly coming to an end. 

The end of the year also might not seem like the best time to introduce this challenge to the student body, but I think that it is. Some might argue that students are worn out by the end of the year and that because of this they value the time that they have where they can relax and use their phone. I disagree with this statement; because it is the end of the year, students are going to be leaving for summer vacation soon and will not see a lot of their peers over this break. They should maximize the time that they have with their friends on campus because once they go away for the break there will be less opportunity for them to see all of their friends.

It will be very interesting to see how the student body reacts to this challenge in contrast to how the faculty and staff react. Will there be a big difference in how seriously the students take the challenge versus how seriously the faculty and staff take the challenge? Or will everyone just migrate to the upper commons, since devices are still allowed there?

I think this is best as an experiment and maybe something where infrequently there is a “device detox” in the lower commons throughout the school year that lasts a week or two, in the coming school years. Regardless of the outcome of this experiment, I do not think that there should be a permanent no-device policy in the lower commons. Students should always have the choice to use a device in the lower commons, but hopefully, this experiment encourages students to use them less and spend more time with their peers.

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