Segregated supermarkets

no student access

In home room this morning there were the usual announcements: overdue library books, unexplained absences, opportunities to study abroad. But then something weird. “Have you heard about the supermarket ban?” asked my mentor teacher, going on to explain to the whole class that a supermarket in the area had banned all students. Anyone in the uniform of a local school would be thrown out. What’s more, senior staff from local schools would be patrolling the supermarket to identify and punish any student caught shopping there. “Bad for business,” someone observed.

Others laughed, but I was furious. What kind of message was this for students to receive at the start of a school day? In advance, any efforts by my colleagues and I to show respect to them had been thwarted by a more sinister message: that young people are only selectively welcome in public; that even supermarkets can be designated “adults only” at a merchant’s whim. Not to mention the bizarre punishment of a whole category of citizens. Well I’m not banned, but won’t be shopping at the supermarket or its affiliates again. [I can’t name the store while disguising the identity of my school, but I’ve written to the manager and will post any response I receive at this website.]

Funny how these things happen: in history last week, we studied segregation.

UPDATE – text of my letter:

To the Manager,

I’m writing to protest the ban on school students from your store. Not only is the exclusion of a whole category of citizens unjust, but the message it sends to the community will fail to improve the behaviour of anyone, irrespective of their age.

Please inform me if and when you lift the ban, as I won’t be shopping at your store until you do so.

Kind regards,
Philip Thiel

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