The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Breaking News: Cell phones no longer allowed in the Dining Hall

Students place phones on the “phone plate” during community dinner. Although the policy is newly introduced, similar rules related to responsible technology use have already been in place during chapel and community dinners. “Nobody’s going to disagree that everyone being on their phones is a problem in human society right now,” said Michael Hoe, Assistant Head of Schools.

Can’t find your friends in the dining hall? Bored in line for lunch? Need a quick break or escape?  

Finding comfort in a funny TikTok video, liking a friend’s Instagram post, or texting a friend has been the second nature solution to the busy, stressful, and fast-paced lives that Webb students lead.  

Webb administration is hoping to change that. On November 27th, Michael Hoe, Assistant Head of Schools, sent an email to student news, announcing that cell phones were no longer allowed in the dining hall and surrounding locations such as Al’s Patio and nearby outdoor seating. This policy encapsulates all dining hall hours, including passing periods like free blocks and office hours. 

The decision was made by the Educational Leadership Team, comprised of Mr. Hoe, Dean Lantz, Ms. Bauman, Mr. Hatala, Dr. Dzula, Dr. Linsley, Dean Tadeo, Dean Rosenfeld, Mr. Wishek and Mrs. Barsotti. Their main goals include overseeing Webb’s educational program, bridging the gaps between different aspects of student life –– including DEI, residential life, academics, and afternoon activities –– to determine how different pieces of Webb fit together to benefit the student experience.  

The main purpose behind this policy is to encourage socializing and community building, as well as teach students how to set healthy boundaries with technology.  

“I want people to feel good about how we are collectively making an effort to make the most of our time together in person,” Mr. Hoe said. “I want people to feel more connected.” 

Despite the short time lapse, there have already been varying student opinions on the new policy.  

“I think that it makes sense; they want us to talk to our friends and make new friends,” Kai Dholakia (‘27) said. “But at the same time, I think it’s awkward when everybody’s just sitting there looking at each other when they can’t be on their phones.” 

Aside from technology usage while hanging out with friends, students also use phones as a means to relax.  

“During our breaks, we feel a need to go on our phones to catch up, check emails, and communicate with other people,” Emily Berg (‘23) said. “A lot of people aren’t trying to be antisocial. They’re trying to catch up with the outside world that they missed when they were in classes.” 

Given the controversy, there are also people who have high hopes for the new policy, hoping that it supports community building. 

“I do think the policy has potential to create positive social change at Webb,” said Andrew Hamilton, Science Department faculty. “I’ve seen students all sitting at the same table, and they’re all just looking through their phones, not talking. Anything that helps people detach from their phones a little bit and talk to each other is good.” 

“I noticed that if I’m talking with friends and they’re on their phones, I can’t really connect with them,” Andrew Barrantes (‘25) said.  

Currently, there is no direct consequence for breaking this policy –– but students will be reminded to put their phones away. A feedback form will be sent before winter break for students to provide suggestions, and possible consequences will be discussed after the pilot period.  

“I’m hoping that people feel the policy is an opportunity to connect, rather than taking things away,” Mr. Hoe said. “If there are ways that we can help to try and cultivate some good habits and boundaries, I think that’s it.” 

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Stephanie Ma
Stephanie Ma, Co-Editor of Opinion
Meet Stephanie “Steph” Ma ('25), a harmonious force within the Webb Canyon Chronicle and Webb Community. This past summer Steph leisurely sojourned in Korea, where she indulged in delicious street foods such as fish cakes and tteokbokki. She continued her summer melodiously with visits to Boston College and NYU’s Clive Davis Institute, where she immersed herself in the world of music, recorded her own songs, and had her soul serenaded by Masie Peters while visiting her brother in Canada. Looking through her Spotify, you are sure to find the ballads of Taylor Swift and Joshua Bassett. A talented instrumentalist, she plays a multitude of instruments such as the violin, guitar, and ukulele, yet her compositions extend beyond melodies. At Webb, the humanities strike a chord in her heart, especially classes conducted by Ms. MacPhee. As a maestro of leadership, Steph serves on the VWS Honor Cabinet When writing for the WCC Steph meticulously pieces together articles, most notably her compelling piece on the UC strikes. Finishing with a crescendo we can all look forward to seeing Steph thrive during her third year at Webb, while we take delight in her enlightened and empathetic articles during her second year at the Chronicle.  Favorite Song: "Cool About It" by Boygenius

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