Posted by: reisendame | October 29, 2007

You’ve gotta fight for your right

Over 200 disgruntled students staged a protest and walk-out at Orville H. Platt High School in Meriden Friday afternoon.

Were they protesting civil rights infringement or fighting to end the war in Iraq? Calling for an end to nuclear proliferation? Demanding a higher quality of education?
No, they were fighting for the right to wear a Halloween costume to school for the upcoming holiday Wednesday, a priviledge that administrators suspended this year, to “maintain educational decorum.” PLatt’s cross-town rival, Francis T. Maloney, did not ban the yearly tradition.

Brandishing signs, the throng of students gathered outside and stood their ground. Some TP-ed trees and shouted obscenities at school officials and cars driving past on Coe Ave. More students attempted to join the masses outside, but doors were blocked by Platt staff who threatened to suspend any students who would defy them.

When I attended the school from 1998-2002, no such activism ever took place. Then again, we hadn’t been faced with the terrifying notion of banned Halloween costumes.

The protest actually was successful, as Principal Timothy Gaffney invited students to gather in the auditorium to discuss the issue. While most of the students were said to have behaved maturely, some were obviously on board just to get out of class and cause an uproar. These students were suspended, though the duration has not been specified.

At any rate, students are now allowed to wear costumes that comply with Board of Education dress code policy.

Although their cause may seem trite in the grand scheme of things, it’s somewhat encouraging to see students banding together and accomplishing their goal, even if the administration was just trying to shut them up. I don’t advocate protesting for the sake of protesting, but this may set a precedent for students who will fight for something really worth fighting for.

If students got fired up about issues that were a bit more consequential than Halloween costumes, they could really help correct some injustices in school systems and in their communities. Just because society considers them to be kids, does not mean their opinion doesn’t matter. Even though most high school students can’t vote, they CAN have a voice as long as they want to.Visit the Students’ Rights Resource website for information about how students can protect and exercise their rights in public schools: Underground Action Alliance


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