Unpopular Policy: Administration policy on school walkout reasonable, not restrictive of students’ rights

Meredith Comas, Opinions Editor

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On April 20, the second national school walkout in support of the #Never Again movement swept the nation in a sea of orange-clad students.

The all-day school walkout in Manhattan was organized by a group of Manhattan students led by former Manhattan High student Katy Denny. This was a walk-out, stay-out event starting at 10 a.m. where students walked to City Hall, protesting to gain political attention in support of an end to gun violence in American schools.

However — to the frustration of many students — in schools throughout Kansas, students who chose to leave school and join the protest were met with administration policies that dictated regular attendance procedures in which, if a student leaves school grounds, they will be marked as absent, taking this mark on their permanent record. Manhattan High was one of these schools.

It is the agreement of The Mentor editorial board that administration in this situation was in no way out of line in their policy regarding protesting students. The job of administration is to protect students; that is exactly what principal Greg Hoyt and his administration policy did.

All this policy did was make students responsible for their own actions. Though, yes, it is kind of saddening that administration feels it must use fear tactics to keep kids in school, they did not restrict students’ First Amendment rights.

According to an email sent out just four days before the protest, Hoyt encouraged students to protest peacefully within the school, “to wear orange as a sign of support for peaceful schools, and also gather in the East Courtyard between lower D and E halls after school.”

This is not restrictive.

Plus, students need to accept that protesting comes with a political or social outcome as well as a consequence on personal lives — sometimes in the form of a missing-attendence mark.

Part of protesting is standing up for what you believe in despite the consequences you may face. Students should not feel as if they should only protest when they will not face consequences. This does a disservice to the concept of civil resistance and a disservice to those involved. Protesting is based on the ideology that we take risks for what we believe in — for what is just and right. Protesting only at the convenience or accommodation of privileges given to students by the school is the wrong idea of what this movement means.

It is our job as Americans to stand up for what we believe in and make full use of the very first right our founding fathers gave to us. However, it is also the job of administrators in educational institutions to protect students. That is all that happened in this situation.

Go ahead and speak up, be heard, take a voice in your community — after all, we are the ones who are going to lead it one day; do not put the blame where it doesn’t belong.

 

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