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At Deerfield Academy, as long as it is not hateful or violence-inducing, we have free reign over what we say. With respect to the National School Walkout, some have claimed that our efforts are polarizing, partisan, or simply unfair to those with differing ideas of what gun violence prevention should look like. Let’s investigate this concern a bit further.

I’d like to break down exactly what a protest means. The word is defined as a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something. That’s it: a demonstration of discontentment to illustrate public opinion. A protest is fundamentally a political movement, and the National School Walkout was one instance of such a movement.

The walkout was not intended for Deerfield students. In fact, our reach was well beyond students having occurred on Family Weekend, and been reported on by local news. We registered the walkout on the official site to demonstrate our participation. We submitted photos and videos to be compiled as a public demonstration of student/young voter support. We held an action event that taught kids how to contact their representatives and how to register to vote. These are all meant to amplify our voices in the national conversation.

Here on Deerfield campus, we are far too averse to people with strong opinions. We silence them at sit-down tables and whisper concernedly about them in common rooms. The fact of the matter is we will have to deal with opinionated people. There’s no question about that. The only question is whether we will be prepared to defend our own opinions and be competent enough to listen to theirs.

However, if you, the reader, still feel that one opinion is not being heard enough, there is plenty of room on the walls to hang your own posters. There is plenty of opportunity to plan your own events and protests. Until then, please respect everyone's individual right to freedom of speech, expression, and protest. Express yourself, start a conversation, and never shrink away from a potentially enlightening conversation.

Published in Deerfield Academy political magazine The View



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