By Elissa Koh,
On Nov. 10, 2016, Davis High students participated in a walkout and march to Central Park in order to protest Donald Trump’s presidency. Over a year later, on March 14, 2018, DHS students left their classes and gathered into the quad in order to participate in the national school walkout to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting and to press Congress to pass laws concerning stricter gun control.
Everyone must recognize the importance of student protests and respect the fact that people are voicing their opinions and fighting for their beliefs, no matter how young they are or what those beliefs are. Students must also be aware of that importance likewise.
It is critical that students be educated on their rights. The First Amendment states that Congress must not violate “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In both cases for DHS walkouts, students exercised their First Amendment right to assemble for peaceful protest. Students had beliefs they strongly held and used that right to express their beliefs. As a result, those students were able to bring to attention and use their voices when they felt those beliefs or values were being violated unfairly.
Staff members must also recognize and respect the rights of students even though they may not necessarily agree with their values or actions. They should not hold anyone back or discourage students from protesting or fighting for a cause they believe in.
Students must also recognize purpose of a protest, and how the point of a protest is not to skip class or to take a stretch break.
Why do people protest? They protest for many reasons: to catalyze change, to fight for their beliefs, to bring awareness to an issue, to check government power and more.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
Many students joined the march against the 2016 presidential election results to make it clear that they did not stand for or agree with the hate Trump vocalized. Students who joined the walkout against the recent shootings voiced their opinions on the need gun reform.
By using their voices, students can make a difference. With that power, students can show their support and bring to attention the values they believe in.
Student should always be free to protest and should not be held back by any school or district rules.
So, to all the students out there: go out and fight for what you believe. Stand up for your values. Exercise your First Amendment rights and make a change. Do not be afraid to take a stand because what you do matters.