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Lend Me Your Ear: Investigating Bolles’s Headphone Rule

Laina Segel, Co Editor-In-Chief

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Students use headphones on campus for any number of reasons: they listen to music to concentrate on tedious assignments, or they try to block out the sound of groups studying around them. The Bolles Dress Code states: “The use of earbuds or headphones are only permitted when listening to a device in an acceptable setting and at a low volume. At any other time, earbuds and headphones should be put away and out of sight of the rest of the community.” However, some students are unclear as to where and how they are allowed to use earphones at Bolles.

Mrs. Denmark, the Dean of Upper School Students, clarified that students may not use headphones while walking around campus.  Headphones are permitted in some spots, but students can only have an earphone in one ear. Mrs.  Denmark explained: “The reason for just one earbud while on campus is a matter of safety.  When students have both ears covered they often cannot hear and become unaware about what is going on around them.”

Most students don’t mind using just one earphone.  Emmett Kogan ‘20 said, “I don’t really see a difference.  If you listen too loudly with both earphones in, everyone can hear it.”  He continued, saying that when using earphones at school “I just listen to music.”  Bianca Piza ‘21 typically uses headphones to watch videos, and she stated that while she doesn’t mind the rule, she thinks “both would be better.”

Mrs. Moody, the upper school librarian, added that although students may use headphones in the library, “They need to consider others working around them.  The volume can’t be distracting.”  Students usually go to the library seeking a quiet environment to focus on homework, so the silence must remain relatively undisturbed.

Students know that headphone use during school is a privilege.  Stuti Potnuru ’18 remarked that she sometimes listens to music while she works in the library, but she specified, “I put the volume low so I can actually hear my surroundings.” Potnuru believes that headphone use is safe on campus, “unless someone is blasting music”, which could prevent students from hearing what’s going on around them–fire alarms, for instance.    

Sneha Reddy ’18 concurred with the idea that students won’t be distracted unless their music is too loud.  She stated, “It depends on how loud they play their music.  Obviously if they play it with the volume all the way up, they’re not going to be able to hear anything.”

Bolles students typically adhere to the guidelines, keeping their headphones hidden away while listening to teachers or walking from class to class.  Mr.  Newman, the Dean of Student Affairs, has observed this year that, “The majority of students are following the rules and doing what they need to do during the school day.”

Like most other technology used in schools, headphones offer many advantages to students.  Studies have shown that listening to music can actually improve your ability to process information, and even lower stress levels.  However, some say that because headphones can serve as an escape, they can also be isolating.  

Mrs. Cussen, the Director of Counseling Services at Bolles, said that headphones can be used for relaxion and enjoyment, destressing, or even to avoid social awkwardness She stated, “It solely depends on the individual whether or not the headphones were used to be a self-isolating mechanism. It is similar to social media: there are good and bad things about it but it depends on how someone uses it.”

So next time you decide to use headphones at school, make sure you only use one—that’s the rule, after all.  But more than that, having one ear available might allow you to hear your fellow students.  


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Lend Me Your Ear: Investigating Bolles’s Headphone Rule