By: Zoe Felfle, Senior
iPrep has supposedly hosted multiple historic protests such as the March for our Lives after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSG) and the climate strike only a few months ago. Our school has consistently sided with progressive change as our country shot into turmoil; student activism has become more prevalent with each passing year as students choose to fight for political change and a better future. However, I am disappointed at the hypocrisy shown by school administration during our school’s so-called “climate protest.”
When I first heard of the protest that morning, I was thrilled that iPrep’s students would be taking action-- albeit late action-- against the increasing threat of climate change. Imagine my disappointment when the protest consisted of a crowd of students silently walking around a closed-off parking lot as cars roared by, drowning out the few voices trying to be heard. Worse yet, the protest, which was supposed to end a bit later, was cut short and students were forced to go back to class angry and unfulfilled.
Our March for Our Lives Protest on April 20, 2018 was as successful as it was for a multitude of reasons. Students prepared with consistent forethought before the event, assuring that they would have the platform and the voice necessary to make a difference. Furthermore, because students spoke on loud speaker before government officials in a public area, they could be heard by the people who could actually help make a difference in their cause. The support of administration provided students with a podium, microphone, and media coverage that they could not have achieved on their own. Most importantly, there was a certain level of passion and drive behind the protest that our climate protest simply did not employ. People cared enough to think about speakers and attendees and all the other factors that can make a protest or any other form of student activism as effective as possible.
Student activism is defined by the peer reviewed online publisher, Intechopen, of scientific books and journals, as, “the involvement of individual students in group activities aimed at defending their interests and bringing about changes in systems, policies, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors regarding issues affecting university life or society at large ” The last protest performed by iPrep failed on all of these accounts. A student protest is meant to inspire change. Meanwhile, our protest our lack of visibility and volume led to absolutely no change or impact whatsoever. Still, I have hope.
I believe that the morals behind iPrep’s attempts at activism are valid. Most of the students that choose to participate in protests want to create an impact, but no impact will be made if the protest is late, has absolutely no government or social visibility, and lacks the student-led aspect that adds to the assembly's power as a social movement in the United States. There should be less administrative restriction, or at the very least more forethought, about where and when students should protest because, in the end, these students are trying to flex their First Amendment Rights as citizens in a democracy and address a problem that directly affects them.
iPrep, the Superintendent’s school, has to be honest about the lack of activist activity at the school in order to shift attitudes of the students towards direct action. I believe that students can enact change if they are given the chance to express their opinions in a bold, creative manner.
I am aware that this letter is unlike my others, but I can no longer ignore the disillusionment that I have harbored since the failed climate “protest.” If iPrep is to remain a forward thinking, progressive bastion, iPrep must acknowledge its hypocrisy in activism. Our school should encourage students to exercise their First Amendment rights, because if it doesn’t, if it continues to press students under the restrictions of authority during what are meant to be student-led assemblies or protests, iPrep Academy will never inspire their students to be the model citizens who force humanity into a new, better future.
Your Editor in Chief,
Hi! I am a proud Ravenclaw and am always obsessing about one book or another. My current obsession is The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. (I highly recommend it if you're into faeries and court intrigue aka THE TEA).