Students speak up against hate and discrimination

At the most recent school board meeting, students from West and City High School spoke up against the hate that they had experienced in the school setting.

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Students speak up against hate and discrimination

Twenty students from West and City High met with the Iowa City School Board to discuss the increase in bigotry and racism following the 2016 Election at six pm on Nov. 22. The students helped get their point across by presenting as whole, and giving a unified argument. The group discussed issues such as diversity, and anti-bigotry.

Students handed out a sheet outlining concerns to the board members. Board members encouraged students to fill out incident reports if discrimination or harassment occurred. This allows the district to attract data on how many incidents and what type occurred. They can use information to provide more help in these situations. These reports can be filled out here.

Their demands called for the reinforcing of diversity, with more emphasis on teachers bringing the issues to light. Also brought up as a concern was the lack of therapists at West High, as well as counselors. The counselors work was not undermined, it was merely stated that they are different jobs and that one is not offered at West. Counselors are for talking about schedules and finding out what your locker combination is when you can’t quite remember and don’t have it jotted down anywhere. Therapists are to talk about more personal matters. It’s understandable that you talk to different people about different matters.

Also expressed as a problem, not only by the group of students who opened, but also by subsequent speakers was the need for Officers or Community Servants in the hallways to make sure that bullying is not prominent. Speakers after them continued the same trends.

One community member came to board concerning problems with how West High Principal Gregg Shoultz has been dealing with the issue. Problems were lodged with the way that he did not give any announcement the day after the election; no assembly, and not even a statement. In fact, when looking back, it was left to the kids to bring the issues to light themselves through the protests that occurred later in that week.

Another problem mentioned was the pandering to athletes that have been caught being bullies. Yes, not every bully has been an athlete, but there is still a good number that have been, and they have not been as severely punished as others caught doing such actions.

In summation, it was a powerful experience, to see these young students, unflinchingly dedicated to the cause, make it this far. It’s a testament to the power of words, nonviolent protest and passion. These students have done more to bring these issues to light than some of the adults in charge, and onlookers can now only hope for the best in their continuing support for the rights of people whose voices aren’t always heard.

Watch the students give their speeches below.