Graphic by Anika Mayar
Taking a stroll around the high school campus, anyone will encounter at least two or three construction sites spotted with the fluorescent yellow uniforms of construction workers. As a student who spends a majority of her day on campus, I feel a palpable sense of anxiety emanating from myself and some other students walking past the sites.
With eyes drawn to toes and hands clasping backpack straps, the apprehensive atmosphere may easily be mistaken for anxiety caused by schoolwork and academic trepidations.
However, the unease that others and I feel is not only due to classes or the loose bricks and cement blocks, but to the penetrating scrutiny of the male gaze. Passing by these construction sites on a daily basis, from biology to dance, I am not the only student trailed with multiple pairs of ogling eyes, feeling like an animal on display.
The COVID-19 restrictions from this past year have further influenced more construction work on campus than students have experienced before. School is an environment already overcome by stress from homework, peer pressure and floods of students. Therefore, the administrators should be trying to create a safe atmosphere outside of classes where students are able to relax.
However, the presence of construction workers, regardless of individual intent, has acted as another stressor to some students’ lives at school, aggravating negative mindsets and self-image.
A female junior student, who wishes to remain anonymous, confided in me her about her concern towards her well-being on school campus: “This morning when I was walking to school, one of the construction workers started staring at me, then nudged his friend and he began to stare as well.”
On several occasions, this student, among many others, felt that the conspicuous attention of construction workers was damaging her sense of safety and self-assurance. The addition of opinionated eyes acts as a burden upon students already dealing with self-conscious thoughts.