Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Walkout increased student divide

Here are some of my thoughts on the walkout at Forest Grove High School Thursday, May 19.

While the walkout had a noble and worthwhile cause — stopping racism — through the events that transpired after the initial event it morphed into a vendetta against the administration and people who support Donald Trump. The two aforementioned factors made the walkout ineffective in accomplishing its primary and noble goal — accomplishing change — and instead further polarized and increased the divide between students at FGHS.

The day following the walkout I overheard one student repeatedly call another student a racist just because he didn’t walk out. I know the power of the word “racist” and characterizing someone as “racist” shouldn’t be taken lightly if the mental repercussions on the one accused are taken into consideration.

While the incident of calling someone racist is a singular incident, it was one that was repeated on social media, and the movement turned into a “with us or against us” — a movement that doesn’t allow for different ideas on solving the problem or open discourse.

The walkout at FGHS drew a lot of attention, and the issue of racism as an entity in our community was put under the spotlight. However, to this day, I have yet to hear anyone mention a single idea or plan to change what’s going on at the school, specifically in regard to their issue with the administration.

At Forest Grove and the majority of high schools, racism has nothing to do with the administration, but rather, it stems from students. I think the only way to fix this is by students taking it upon themselves to work to change the atmosphere of the school and their peers. A walkout takes pressure off the students, where this issue is coming from. A sit-in, while [it] may not give you as cool of pictures to post on social media, would bring the pressure for change toward the right students and result in better conversations and solutions to this issue.

The walkout was unsure on what it was doing involving politics. The first official statement was that it was unrelated to politics in any way, but many people at the rally seemed to think otherwise and so did many media outlets. This discrepancy makes sense; this walkout was incited by a student putting up a poster with a phrase that has become synonymous with Donald J. Trump and that’s what is interesting to me. If seeing a phrase used by the Republican nominee can cause 700 students to walk out of class, then it seems as though the school should say “nothing Trump-related at school because anything he says is hurtful.” However, that would be unfair and probably illegal, and this is where the issue lies.

This idea that Donald Trump is a joke and a racist and his supporters are either joking or stupid is further permeated by teachers who don’t even attempt to hide their bias or downright hatred for Trump. Educators have a large responsibility — they are the ones who influence and shape students’ lives — and the lack of accountability for those who don’t leave their own political biases at the door of the classroom, who only promote one ideology as correct, who berate and punish kids who have differing opinions, is a travesty and must also be addressed.

Max Norman is a sophomore at Forest Grove High School.