2018-04-12 / Viewpoint

Administration should not have controlled student protest

On March 14 students showed up to Grand Blanc High School with the intention of participating in the National School Walkout. This protest was supposed to last seventeen minutes and honor the 17 students who lost their lives to gun violence in Parkland, Florida while exercising the need for change regarding gun laws. As Grand Blanc Community Schools and High School alumna, I have an issue with the way the administration went about controlling the students’ desire to protest. I believe the act of protesting has the power to inspire and push individuals into greater action, and my concern lies in the way in which Grand Blanc High School’s (GBHS) administration tried to manage this walkout, as it was not the proper response.

As a product of the Grand Blanc school system, I know how to respond in the event of a suspicious person on campus, a tornado or fire that threatens the building, and during my senior year, I learned the new way in which our school was trained to respond in the event of an active shooter. However, since attending University of San Francisco, I have realized how poorly this school system prepares its students for real-world experiences that require them to speak out on behalf of their beliefs, morals and desire change.

When the administration made the decision to place the school into secure mode due to a non-loaded threat, not only was the school exercising a hold on the students’ beliefs that are developing in this important time of their lives but GBHS told students if they were to participate in the walkout, then they would be written down for skipping class. They were also told to, instead, use the hour to email their representatives and senators - implying only this will provoke real change. I understand the secure mode that was placed may have been necessary, however, GBHS belittled the movement of its students with an intention to silence them and keep them complacent.

Perhaps placing the school into secure mode was the best way to ensure the safety of all of the students. Perhaps, to some, real change does come with taking actions like emailing political officials. Perhaps the events of this day could have been avoided by the administration becoming more in-tune with its student’s beliefs and means of expression.

My advice to GBHS? Listen to your students. When you establish a mutual understanding of the wants and needs of students that are, too, affected by the events of the world, the ways in which you can support them will become clearer. Allowing your students to use their voices will prepare them for a world which so desperately needs their participation to evoke change. By barring them from participating in this monumental event, you are further hindering them from experiencing the world as it exists, and preparing them to be complacent, not the change-makers that you have the power to help form.

Zapporah Turner,
former Grand Blanc student

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