HannahKornegay, Features Editor
CarolineKurzawa, Staff Reporter
Protests by their very definition are disruptive. However, many schools won’t allow students to freely express themselves. Often times, when presented with what could be perceived as a “disruption,” schools censor and diminish planned protests to the point that they no longer resemble the original plans.
This was the case on Mar. 14 here at Chattahoochee. Because the Parkland, Fla. shooting occurred at a high school with teenagers, the effects have been widely publicized on social media. Almost immediately after the shooting took place, flyers declaring a student-led protest to take place on Wednesday, Mar. 14, exactly one month after the shooting, began to circulate. The intent of this day of protest was to urge lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws and protect students on campus. While the day could also serve as a memorial, Chattahoochee High School has already honored and grieved for the victims who lost their lives in this needless act of cruelty during a moment of silence in a pep rally that took place on Feb. 23.
A walkout planned to protest the current lack of gun control laws was warped into a second pseudo-memorial for the victims. Students were told by the administration that they were allowed to leave class at 10:00 a.m. and go to the gym to have 17 minutes of silence for the 17 victims of the shooting. While this is a thoughtful gesture for the students of Stoneman Douglas, we need action and new policies. The point of the protest was to garner the attention of lawmakers; however, it’s unclear how any attention was received when we were not allowed to leave the building. We need to be able express our thoughts and fears. There needs to be change. Seventeen minutes of silence won’t lead to change, only action will.
The walkout seemed more like a punishment than an actual protest due to the fact that teachers and administrators guarded the doors, and police officers were active on campus, monitoring the parking lot. When students tried to take action by walking out of the building, they were punished with the threat of disciplinary action.
Of course, we understand that it is the administration’s responsibility to protect their students. Therefore, they went about this in a way that we think they believed would both appease the students’ need to protest and keep them safe. So, in a way, we can understand the guarded doors and making sure that students can demonstrate in a safe and monitored area, but this simply wasn’t a protest. There was no way that it would result in change. If there were going to be a problem with having a protest during the school day on school grounds, the administration should have made arrangements for this by allowing students to demonstrate after school at another location even though this would have broken with the idea of a united, national protest.
Additionally, should walking out result in an in-school suspension or other disciplinary action? Julia Tracy (SR) attempted and was successful in walking out of the building in order to adequately express her beliefs but was stopped and told that she would be receiving “disciplinary action.” When asked how she felt about the consequence, she responded that she would wear the discipline as “a badge of honor.”
The most frustrating point of this protest is that the administration avoided giving the students what they truly asked for. Instead, they appeased the student body, hoping that they wouldn’t cause too much of a disruption or distraction. While it is understandable that the administration and teachers are here to protect students, this day did not contribute positively to the cause in the way it was intended.