Don’t diminish our intelligence

I would like to preface this article with the fact that I (student) wrote every word, independent of the thought police. As this is the last piece I will be writing for the Prowler, I figure I might as well verbalize my feelings.

At the board meeting, on May 7, a speaker in the public comments said the following: “An article published in the Newbury Park Panther Prowler, April 25th edition, shows the depths to which some teachers will go to manipulate their students.” To this, I have a few things to say.

It is ironic that the Prowler staff is being diminished to some weak entity that simply regurgitates the words of some orchestrating powerhand, when in fact our paper is a student-run, student oriented and student empowering outlet. And I get it– some of you I can’t convince; it’s like trying to convince an old white male to reflect on why he cares so much about a blastocyst.

I joined the newspaper staff because I wanted to be able to express myself and to be there reporting on the frontlines of local issues that directly affect my peers. It was bittersweet; I expected to receive backlash but I never expected the community to respond by telling me my opinions are not even mine at all, or to twist my words beyond recognition.

Spending hours in the cramped Tuesday evening boardroom, taking notes on public speakers, interviewing students, teachers and board members, and meticulously writing article after article for three years has given me some insight on the nature of the opt-out policy. The following is my own personal stance, which I have reaffirmed repeatedly but which I will put in simpler language in order to appease any lacking intellect: Opting out is fine. If a student feels they need to opt out, power to them.

My grievance is with the way opting out is advertised as a necessary means to protect students from “child pornography” and (most recently, as a white woman pointed out) “racism”. I am angered by the way the opt-out policy came to be without adequate student and teacher representation. I am mad that I have seen students who point out injustices get scoffed off the stage at board meetings, while those who cherrypick and ridicule are elevated. I am upset about the way that intricate and powerful literature is dissected, publicly defamed and slandered. I do not mean, in any way, to marginalize victims of assault, nor have I ever stipulated so. Rather, I argue that these novels contain instrumental messages about gender roles, social dynamics, human nature and political oppression, and should not be taken out of context. I do not argue, as the speaker specified, that it is “good for abuse victims to be forced to read graphic depictions of child rape.”

The speaker on May 7 continued to say that, “We seem to have a real problem in this district with a handful of political activist teachers.” To correct this obvious lack of understanding, the “problem” is a handful of political activist STUDENTS who were long silenced and are now speaking out and speaking loud. I understand that there is a generational divide; that young activists and kids involved in ethics and justice were uncommon prior to millennials. I suppose it is just something that just needs to be adapted to, like cell phones and the microwave.

I would like to conclude with a final quote from the speaker: “I’m not sure what planet this advisor lives on.” As I hope I have established, all opinions I have published are mine not my advisor’s. Therefore, I would like to address this ponderance: I live (as a matter of fact), on the earth (which is not flat), in a lovely state called California where my rights as a student journalist are protected under United States federal law. To all you die hard patriots out there, I’m sure you understand what that means.