PDA: Please Don’t, Already?

By Christina Lappas, Managing Editor

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To my left, there’s one couple making out. To the right, there’s another couple groping each other. Behind me, there’s a couple who is just standing there, oblivious to everyone else, hugging. In front of me, there’s another couple cuddling on the floor.

The hallways are already crowded with the hundreds of people in the halls during passing periods, and I don’t want to be late to class due to somebody else’s need to make out in inconvenient doorways. Excessively.

School is a place mainly for learning, as well as some of the fun that goes along with it, but it is not a place to put your relationship on full display. In fact, the student handbook identifies “Inappropriate Social Behavior” as “any excessive display of affection and other behaviors which cause embarrassment to onlookers and interferes with everyone’s right to an orderly, educational atmosphere.”

In spite of the handbook’s clear guidelines, there does not appear to be strict enforcement. Students have varied reactions to this.

“I don’t see much PDA, and I’m glad that I don’t because I don’t want to see my peers making out in my learning environment,” junior Simon Shamoon said. “I personally think that there should be a rule enforcing a detention if people are making out or sensually touching.”

Although the actions can be irritating and can make people feet a bit uneasy, junior Mareena Gurguis does not believe that there should be a rule against it.

“I see it around sometimes, and it kind of makes me uncomfortable. I’m just trying to get to my class sometimes, and they’re in my way, and it makes me feel weird to see people making out in front of me. I don’t necessarily think that there should be a rule against it,” Gurguis said. “I just think that people should be told to tone it down a little bit.”

Curious about how teachers feel about PDA, I spoke with physics teacher Anthony Comstock, who takes a neutral position on enforcement.

“I see it every single passing period of every single day I have worked here. I am indifferent to it, as our students here are young adults, free to make their own decisions, but also to deal with the consequences of those decisions,” Comstock said.

Comstock believes that with PDA being allowed, there comes a responsibility with it as well.

“I think that students need to be educated on what it means to be in a relationship. True love is not canoodling under the stairwell with your sweetheart that you met in your freshman year history class,” Comstock said. “Rather, it is being able to bid farewell to each other during the passing period with a firm handshake and eye contact, knowing that you are both focused solely on your academic success so that you may one day have a good career that allows you to support your sweetheart from your freshman year history class.”

Social Studies teacher Daniel Kosiba distinguishes between public and private relationships.

“I see PDA in school on almost a daily basis,” Kosiba said. “I think that most PDA at our school falls somewhere between awkward and straight up disturbing to the innocent passers-by subjected to it. I am all for physical acts of affection between romantic partners, I just believe they should be something that is personal, private, and intimate; not something you do in front of a bunch of randos in the stairwell at school.”

Kosiba does not think the rule should be enforced because it could be going against the people’s rights.

“That being said, I do not think there should be school rules or codes designed to regulate PDA. Legislating what constitutes an act of PDA, and then enforcing said rules/codes to try and stop it, is impractical and potentially sends our school down a slippery slope that could result in legal battles over first amendment rights,” Kosiba said.

But what about my rights? The thing is, I don’t want to see it. A lot of other people don’t want to see it. I think the rule in the handbook is there for a reason and needs to be enforced. Those of us at Niles West who find excessive public displays of affection awkward, uncomfortable or downright disgusting have a right to a PDA-free school environment. Just because many of us feel this way doesn’t mean we are prudes or opposed to relationships; it just means we think this isn’t the right place. We should make PDA = Private Displays of Affection.