The student voice of Vista del Lago High School

The Raven's Call

Don’t Silence Me

Students not being about to express negative opinion on campus

Salonda Johnson, Copy Editor

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When we were young, we were taught the idea, ‘’If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.’’ Yet, as we got older we see the use of negative comments as it happens all around us; to movies and television, to our neighborhoods and to our own school campus.

The concept of having an opinion, specifically negative on campus has been limited, surely enough, that is not okay with me and pretty sure, other students as well. As a young person who has more than enough to say about social, political and school issues, I should be able to state it, without any backlash..right?

This past school year, the acts of our free speech has been jeopardize due to expressing negative opinions on school campus and online.

It was the beginning of the school year where the growing tensions of police violence between minorities caused a protest in which students stopped standing or started to kneel during Pledge of Allegiance, showing that they will not stand for a country that does not stand for them, a familiar example is football player Colin Kaepernick  who didn’t and doesn’t stand for the National Anthem. With Kaepernick, many people, football fans in particular, did not like the idea of not standing for the anthem because it takes away from the game itself.  This was very similar to our school setting, many teachers and students felt the same way, as if not standing will bring distraction to students and somehow bringing the tension of the issue to our campus, which was brought up in one of my other articles.

Science teacher Alice Harrison stated, ‘’I don’t understand why people protest because it is not doing anything, it is not the proper way of doing things.’’ ,which is ironic because majority of laws that are place today are because of some sort of resistance or protest.

Either way, shouldn’t it be a good thing that students are using their First Amendment, right of free speech and expression? Something we were taught to do? Let’s not be surprised because believe it or not this has happened before with the Tinker v. Des Moines case, which was a peaceful and silent protest that was taken out of proportion by school officials, something that is clearly happening here as well.

In general, the school can not make us do something that we as one don’t believe in. Sorry to break it to you, but the Pledge of Allegiance does apply to one of those things.

In addition to the growing tension, the presidential election that elected our current president, Donald Trump caused even more conflict within our students and staff. Protests across the country was erupted and people showed their resistance to the issues Trump supported or refused to speak on. People at the rallies were minorities of race, religion and sexual orientation and of the young generation, pretty similar to our school campus.

A local organizer created an anti-trump  protest here in Moreno Valley, that attracted students. Which made one of the seniors, Kenny Lemus, make the announcement on our weekly morning announcements. This made some teachers, even administration, upset. The day of the incident Kim Kruger stated, “ It would make it look like  we’re (the school) would be taking sides on a issue.’’ The statement he made wasn’t incorrect but shouldn’t the students know what’s going on within their community, especially if it has to do with people who were affected by the election? In the video announcements itself, they state local events that happens in our community. There was many events that had to do with certain ideas and points like religion and many different cultures before, so what’s the problem now?  

Kenny Lemus said, “My friend actually brought up the idea for me to do the announcement, and I decided to do it.”

What Kenny didn’t know was the consequences that was was going to suffer. Administration, the principal to the teacher expressed their opinion about announcement being made, causing the student to no longer be a part of the morning announcements the next semester.

Which is ironic for the situation itself due to the fact that it was Lemus’s opinion that got him in trouble in the first place.

Lemus continued, “ I don’t regret doing anything, my opinion will stand where it is. Period. “

The power of social media has affected the way our world functions for a while but it was till recently where it took a turn on our school grounds. It made one of the performing arts activities go into a spiral. Student named Aubreana Murrell opened her twitter account to tweet the words ‘’Dance team is trash.’’

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, ‘’that’s rude of her’’. Now this isn’t the nicest comment. On SocialMediaToday, ‘’People with more fundamental or perhaps morally questionable views  than your average Joe can cause stirs and discomfort. Now, people have the right to believe in what they want but when they express these more extreme views, or attack other people (sexism, racism for example), that offense can be taken and problems began’’ about posting on social media. So is this what happened in Aubreana’s case? Even though it wasn’t extreme opinion like the one mentioned above, it was very unpopular.

Aubreana stated, “ I had high expectations for dance team this year because sophomore year team was great’’

Perhaps the reason why she posted the statement on social media was because she was going to get called out on campus. It is stated by Knight Foundation,

‘’There is a real perception that campuses are not fully open environments. A slight majority of students, 54 percent, say the climate on their campus prevents some people from saying what they believe because others might find it offensive.’’ This report was done upon college campuses but I couldn’t help but relate it back to our school. If this issue blew up on social media onto our school campus, think about what would happen if she came out and said her opinion publically.

Also on SocialMediaToday it stated, ‘’social media can be used for internet bullying and victimizing. It gives people the opportunity to upset and gossip 24/7’’, and that is where the disagreements began. People who were on dance team, dance or knew people in dance thought they were being harassed or bullied, they believed that her comment was rude and was something that was uncalled for.

Yet former dance team member Dejon Wright had this to say, ‘’If what was said wasn’t true, then it shouldn’t have affected them.’’

Personally, I feel like this will forever be a problematic not the following issue itself, but on social media as a whole. Everyday we are introduced to many human beings with different opinions and different ways to act upon it.  We have people who keep it simple and like to sugar coat and others like to keep it raw, real, and straight to the point. As teenagers and young adults, I feel like it is best to be ‘’real’’ and honest but to be careful how we present ideas or issues. We also need to realize that it is not up to us to monitor or look up someone else’s social media because it is simply, theirs. It is their words and their mind.

Speaking of words, let’s go into the classroom A220 & A221, Journalism. Journalism itself is a course that many schools don’t agree with due to the content that is being published, in our case, it was a article that was never even finished.

Associate Student Body, or for short ASB is mostly known for planning school activities and has somewhat of a say- so control of what happens on school campus. It was until winter formal where students started to question what was going on within the classroom.

Many students expressed the disliking of the music ‘’variety’’ that was being played at the winter dance, at lunch and recently, prom. We couldn’t help, some of us, here at The Raven’s Call,  that the music that was being played was upon one group of minority descent..Hispanic music.

Vista Del Lago alone has about 67 percent of Hispanic, Latinx students and staff. So, the concept of what type of music being played isn’t really surprising but the fact that this act is being done so nonchalantly and not being considerate of other students, teachers and other staff matters.

As the person who pitched the idea, one of our following students took the chance to write the article. Throughout her interviewing and information gathering process, students from the ASB organization was being unprofessional and disrespectful upon the questions being asked.

The ASB president was being contacted to be interviewed but had nothing to say about the matter, but the journalist who went out the box, Karla Jimenez had this to say, “I had mixed emotions about the situation, I didn’t feel like it was right how they were having attitudes and their tone was very rude, and unprofessional for a student ran program. ”

The article itself was going to be very controversial to publish in the first place, but that doesn’t mean that our voice, the student voice has to be silenced.

Should I go back to the purpose of our First Amendment?,  and how it says and states to protect and that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press?

We, the press are protected by this amendment and should not have to be silenced at any cost because it rubs someone the wrong way, because in reality..that is what we have to do.  The Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case is a perfect example and goes into the idea that as student journalist, our First Amendment rights are not violated when school officials prevent the publication of certain articles in the school newspaper.

In the midst of the society and the world we live in, the act of free speech and expression on school campus is becoming more limited as time goes by. With me graduating in a month and going off to college to major in the journalism and writing profession, it truly makes me think what will happen once I leave this world of high school.

I question if younger students will have the chance to express themselves within negative or any opinion that they have in their hearts. As students, we should be able to state our voice about issues that affect us, we should be able to state unpopular opinions, we should be able to state opinions that will make the school better as a whole.

We should be able to say what we want to say because it is simply our right to so, yet we can’t because the school system teaches us not to. So, if there is certain point of our lives and we have a chance to use our voices, yet some chooses not to…who is to blame, you or me?

 

 

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The student voice of Vista del Lago High School
Don’t Silence Me