Roving Teen Reporter: Speaking Out
Lily Nilipour | Torrey Pines High School Senior
It seems that, in the weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency so far, public opinion on nearly every topic has been vastly divided. As a high school student, I have seen that same divide right here at school and in the community, though on a smaller scale.
One issue that particularly resonates with high school students is the topic of marches and protests. All across the country, and even more so in California, marches of all sizes have taken up various causes, from women’s rights to immigration. College campuses especially have been a hotspot for these marches, perhaps most notably at UC Berkeley earlier this month.
“Protests are important [because] people have freedom of speech,” Canyon Crest student Rachel F. said. “They have shaped our country, and it’s something our country has fought for.”
Students in high school have been able to relate to these marches — positively or negatively — because it is a way for them to participate in an otherwise rather distant political environment. For example, a group of students at Canyon Crest even organized their own silent march a few weeks ago in response to the immigration ban. Although there must have been some differing opinions at the school, students still respected each other’s right to those opinions.
That is a trend I have noticed among high school students: despite having opposing political views, most understand that peaceful argument and expression is vital to maintaining the spirit of democracy in our country. The ability for people to march and protest in a non-disruptive way is expressly ensured in the First Amendment.
Yet, it is when protests go too far, such as at UC Berkeley, that high schoolers seem to draw the line.
“I support peaceful protests, not protests that are violent, disruptive or doing anything illegal,” Rachel said. “You can initiate change, [but you can’t] expect others to respect you if you don’t follow the rules. People need to keep their cool so that their opponents can’t use their mistakes against them.”
This is what perhaps highlights the sentiment that needs to be a little dampened in the political climate — feelings of animosity, superiority, and harshness. Marches, done peacefully, have the potential to open up conversations, to bring up topics misrepresented or under-discussed. But, when they are either merged with hostility or met with hostility, that underlying purpose becomes skewed.