Closed Campus? A Case Study of Skipping at Subchunkin


Adam Aleksic, Editor-in-Chief

“‘Albany High is a closed campus,’ they said. It’s too bad half the school was already at Subchunkin”.

This was the content of a Twitter post written by an Albany High student on Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 8:31 a.m. That’s during school hours.

Subchunkin is an acronym coined in late 2012 by frequently truant students, according to social media records. It is a portmanteau of “Subway”, “Xing Long”, (aka Chinese Food in the portmanteau) and “Dunkin’”, the three stores located in the brick building next to the Price Chopper at 1066 Madison Avenue. It is approximately 3,000 feet from Albany High School, about the same distance as a stretch on Central Avenue that holds a Burger King and McDonalds’s. However, Subchunkin is much more frequented by truant (truancy being illegal skipping from school) students, as it is more popular, has a larger sitting area with more choices, and in a better neighborhood.

Google statistics show that people spend 25 minutes at Subchunkin, not including the combined 16 minutes it takes to walk there and back. Times are very interesting, with the largest number of people arriving from 12 to 1, and the second largest intervals about tied at 11-12 a.m. and 1-2 p.m. While this may constitute lunch hours, these times are definitely skewed because of student absconding, with similar Google analytics showing much less of a school-times centered bell curve for Subway locations at, say, 1 North Pearl Street or 201 Henry Johnson Boulevard, with almost equal customer times for those locations.

I had heard from peers in my school that there are twitter accounts devoted to Subchunkin, where students discuss hall sweeps, trade profanities, and compare their favorite foods at its eponymous edifice, and even go so far as to warn students when truant officers are in the area. Interested, I went online to find out, and discovered some very interesting student secrets. First off, that account does exist, with updates saying things like that police “are at dunkin rn”.

Most fascinating, whoever runs that account (and it appears to be an upperclassman student still at AHS) did much of my work for me in the form of polls: in one, with 18 participants, the question asks “who’s going to school tmmrw”, with 67% saying yes and 33% saying no.

Another discovery could be gleaned from a question about people’s favorite store at Subchunkin. 20% answered Subway, 26% answered Xing Long, and 54% answered Dunkin, out of 35 votes. This not only gives us an insight as to the most frequented store there, but also the scope of people linked to this illegitimate skipping, which conservatively could be above fifty.

Intrigued by other Twitter comments I could see, I decided to read through all 195 comments on Twitter containing the phrase “Subchunkin”, and cataloged the data in a spreadsheet. Turns out that 42.5% of all the posts mentioned or advocated skipping, with most along the lines of “who wants to go to Subchunkin with me”. Six of the 195 posts directly warned against going to Subchunkin due to truant officers there. One post even said “Come hang out at subchunkin cuz school sucks” and others talked about skipping “5 periods to go to subchunkin”. Clearly there is a problem. I had to find out more.

I went on-location to interview two workers at Dunkin’ Donuts; here we will call them Kathy and Violet to honor their requests to have their identities kept anonymous. I identified myself as a reporter and asked their official opinions on high school student truancy.

“All right,” said Kathy. “So, student truancy, now, my thoughts on student truancy is like, if you cut school and you come here, don’t do that”. Violet nodded her head. “I feel like they need to be in school from the hours of eight to three…”

“You should be in school, not here,” Kathy said.

“Not here,” Violet echoed. That being established, I went on to inquire how many people they see skipping each day at Subchunkin. “Oh, they come here,” Violet said in a deep voice, followed by a whistle.

“I barely even notice anymore, though,” Kathy confided. “It don’t even come to my mind that they’re skipping”.

“Hold up,” Violet cut in. “Is the lunch better now? Is the school lunch better now? Because they were cutting pizza with scissors at that school when I went there!” I asked if she was implying that “maybe students come here because the school lunch is poor”. At this, Violet leaned directly into my microphone and said excitedly that “the school lunch, you got me? The school lunch is [Expletive Deleted], you heard me? That’s what I’m saying.” She broke off into a fit of giggles and Kathy continued the conversation from where we left off.

“Basically, around twelve o’clock, we get 5 to 10 students. After one, though, that’s where they really start coming”. Violet made an agreeing sound. Having wrapped up the conversation, I thanked them and left.

It was exceedingly difficult to line up student interviews, since nobody wanted to be implicated or get access cut off to their favorite coffee store, but I did get two kids to talk on the condition that they remain anonymous, (known here as Richard and Reynaldo). To my immense surprise, Richard only offered one comment, and it was, verbatim, what Violet had said: that “the school lunch is [Expletive Deleted]”.

Reynaldo proved more talkative. “I’d say I see about nine or ten people when I go there, and that’s a minimum,” he told me. When I asked about his personal opinion on the implications of truancy, he laughed. “I don’t think it does anything… all it does is boost the economy!” Another laugh. Then he echoed a now-common theme. “I just want food; the school food is not as good. Do you really think that chicken nuggets, like crappy half-frozen chicken nuggets, are better than a donut?”

Clearly the regulation-violating students are interested not only in their personal independence, but also in eating better food. Perhaps better school lunches would improve the situation, but high school kids have been truant since time immemorial. Ever harsher regulations by school authorities don’t seem to curb these illicit activities at all; perhaps it is even possible that the students who skip would skip regardless of their situation. But that’s just speculation.

What we know are facts. According to the traffic at Subchunkin a minimum of five students skip each period of the school day for food and or drink. That traffic translates to 1.8% of Albany High School’s student population with a maximum of nearly 3.5% a day. It’s an undeniable fact that Albany High School has a truancy problem which cannot be feasibly reigned in, barring Draconian measures.