The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Mr. Winston Spits It Out: No More Gum at Poly


Gum is no longer allowed on Poly’s campus, following an announcement by Jared Winston, head of student life, in Chapel on Wednesday, February 21. According to Winston, this ban will be indefinite. Winston is now patrolling the halls for any gum chewers who, if caught, will be escorted by Winston to a trash can to spit it out. 

The decision for this ban was made after Winston noticed large amounts of gum left around campus. “We were finding gum on the front steps baked into the cement. We were finding it in the hallways on the carpet,” he said. “This is no place for gum.” However, Winston explained that the gum ban is not a new policy. When he proposed the idea to Head of Upper School Sarah Bates, he was surprised to find out that this was already set in place, just not being enforced. “[It was] akin to jaywalking on the streets of New York City,” he said. The decision to ban gum was especially important more recently, as the middle school had instated a gum ban the week prior. “It can be really difficult to try and enforce policies for the middle school if middle school students see their role models not following the same policies,” Winston added. 

The history of gum policies at Poly extends far beyond just this new ban. Maité Iracheta, who is in her 18th year teaching Spanish at Poly, remembers that, when she first arrived at Poly, the gum ban was heavily enforced. “[The gum] policy was being enforced on a daily basis. It was a policy that all the students knew about,” she said. However, when COVID-19 came and disrupted the regular life of the school, everything changed. “When COVID came, every rule relaxed. From dress code, to even manners… the gum is a similar situation.” Iracheta pointed out that, especially with so many new faculty coming in the last few years since COVID, they were never aware of the no-gum-policy. 

As a Spanish Teacher, Iracheta said a no-gum policy in a language class can be important. “You come to Spanish class, it’s a language class, you need to speak. So if you’re speaking and you have gum and I see the gum, that means the gum is getting in the way of your voice,” she said. “So that’s when [I say] ‘excuse me, please put your chicle in the trash can.’” Still, Iracheta does not like to be too strict with her enforcement—if students chew gum discreetly, she will still allow it.

However, the new policy does not seem to be taking off. Jill Wojcik, assistant director of sports performance, and Richard James, director of performance fitness, along with many other teachers and students, had not heard of the policy being instated, as no email was sent to faculty or students about these changes.

Still, Wojcik and James welcome the policy with open arms. Wojcik and James often find gum stuck to the bleachers or on the turf in the backfields. “People just spit it out wherever,” James said.

Some students, however, are finding the new rule problematic. Ava Buckley ’25, a fan of Extra’s spearmint gum, normally chews one piece of gum in the morning, another after lunch, and occasionally another throughout the day. As a student with ADHD, Buckley uses gum to help her focus during class periods. She has still been chewing, but she worries that, if caught, her ability to focus might waver. “I get that there needs to be a change to the disposal of gum, but I think there could’ve been a way better way than banning it altogether,” she said. Winston noted that students with ADHD or those with doctor’s notes permitting gum will be given permission to chew gum.

Other students, such as Sebastian Ferre ’25, who estimated he chews about three pieces a day, use gum to help them focus. Indeed, studies done by The National Library of Medicine suggest that chewing gum can enhance focus. “I’ve found that whenever I chew gum, I do tend to perform better than when I don’t chew gum,” Ferre said as he pulled out a fresh white stick. Ferre also said that he is disappointed by the blanket policy that is affecting even those who follow the rules, but he still understands where they are coming from. “It’s just disgusting to clean up someone else’s mess,” he said.

Others, like Levi Jacobson ’25, understand the need for such a solution to the gum problem. “There has been a shocking amount of time when I put my hand under my desk and felt a disgusting orb of gum.” He noted that he frequently sees students still putting their gum under their desks during this school year. However, he worries that banning gum can harm students’ performances on exams. “Imagine, it’s a midterm, so you’re really trying to focus, you’re really trying to lock in, so you get gum and you start chewing it. But then the proctor of the exam says you can’t chew it, so you’re left without something that helps you focus,” said Jacobson. Additionally, he feels that the way the policy has been instated is not the best way to deal with the problem. “Banning gum is putting a band-aid over a bullet hole. The same people who were putting gum underneath the tables aren’t going to listen to a gum bam. You should punish the individual, not the group.” 

Lachlan Rudd ’25, a Trident fan, feels that there was not enough consideration put into the outright banning of gum. “All they showed was a bunch of gum stuck under the tables, which really could’ve been there for years,” said Rudd. Rudd feels that the banning of gum only impacts the “rule-following” type, and those who would spit gum under tables will not listen to a gum ban either—especially one with so few teachers enforcing it.

Winston said, however, that the students who are upset at the banning of gum because they never stuck it anywhere are looking at the situation the wrong way. “Some students have come to me with the argument: ‘But Mr. Winston, I dispose of my gum properly.’ And that’s the idea that, what, we shouldn’t have any laws or policies because there are some people who do the right thing? That’s a silly way to look at the world.”

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