Student activists: more powerful, more necessary than ever

Alternate Copy Story by Wyatt Wasko

The Parkland massacre was easily one of the worst tragedies to occur in recent years and one of the most devastating terrorist attacks to happen on U.S. soil. Students who have been able to stand up to protest these completely preventable deaths represent a larger movement of political involvement on behalf of young people, a movement which does not deserve to be shut down by lazy Baby Boomers just because Gen Z is passionate.

Gun control remains one of the most contentious topics to Congress – but not to the rest of America. A study by CNN shows seven in ten people support stricter gun control laws, making it one of the most agreed-upon contemporary issues. With a Congress beholden to NRA donations and an election year coming up, the Republican majority tries to keep pretending like it is an issue of left versus right ideology. Even though the facts disprove this, it still seems to be overly inflammatory.

People have been acting like the young generation does not know what they are talking about, even though all they want is basic safety while trying to learn. Adults’ convenient dismissal of young people is no longer accurate or possible.

“We are kids, we are parents, we are students, we are teachers. We are tired of practicing school shooter drills and feeling scared of something we should never have to think about. We are tired of being ignored,” the new face of the Gun Control movement, Emma Gonzalez, said in her essay for Harper’s Bazaar.

This feeling of being silenced has struck a chord with current high-schoolers, who are now turning out in droves to protest for their own safety. While often times students at Stillwater Area High School feel unheard by the administration, those same staffers have been extremely and laudably supportive of the student efforts to organize and exercise their First Amendment rights during this movement.

We are tired of practicing school shooter drills and feeling scared of something we should never have to think about.”

— Emma Gonzalez

This approach that the administration is taking remains radically different from many across the nation in its acceptance of student efforts. While schools in Needville, Texas, threaten suspensions and Florida passes legislature to arm teachers, our administration noticed the anger of the student body and responded.

Even before members of the Students Against Gun Control group met with any members of the administration, they sent out an email outlining a fairly liberal policy about the March 14 walkout, and are now proceeding to alter the schedule to reflect the day’s plans.

Support like this is really what is needed in situations like these. So many complain about the uselessness of history, and yet here we are, having the chance to make it. The administration, in allowing us to protest, is both showing us the power of civil disobedience and allowing students to safely express their opinions and learn more about what each opinion means. It is an unparalleled teachable moment.

Students need to be able to freely express themselves as the find out who they are and they decide on the issues that matter to them and becoming involved in government processes instead of being told that they do not matter is what is going to allow these kids to learn about what it means to be an adult with independent thought. If a school’s job is to educate us, then that includes being able to form our own opinions, something which is only possible when we are given the freedom necessary.

The lack of actual teacher involvement in the protest, however, is saddening. While it is teacher’s jobs to appear unbiased, and the security risks associated with half the staff participating are undesirable, staff should not have to sacrifice their own rights either. School shootings affect them just as much as it does us. We are letting them be pushed aside during this conversation like they don’t matter, something all teenagers can relate to.

Our administration is currently doing what many others failed to – treat student voices like they deserve to be heard on an issue that directly impacts them. For once, students may actually be able to have an impact on legislation, and SAHS currently is acting as an amplifier to that speech. Take note, Needville. Stillwater has gotten itself together.