Student Rights


Student\'s Rights
by Q.T.M. McConnell


Are you in the mood for some good reading? The other day I was in the Guidance Office looking for guidance when I saw an unassuming three page packet. Having nothing else to do, I picked one up and began reading. I learned that the name of this little manual is the Student\'s Rights and Responsibilities Bill. I thought to myself, "my, what a great place is La Follette, that I can simply walk into my guidance office and learn my rights as a student. But wait, why must I pursue this information on my own? Why isn\'t this information in my handy handbook issued to me at the beginning of the school year? I ought to read this!" So I read. Soon I realized why our School Board may not want students realizing what we are actually entitled to. Right away in the Preamble, it states "students have the responsibility to respect rights of all persons involved in the educational process and exercise the highest degree of self-discipline in observing and adhering to legitimate rules." The first thing I thought was "WOW! That sounds great! The School Board really trusts me as a free-thinking individual to respect people and be respected. I love this school!" But wait. Before we all stage an "I love Cheryl Wilhoyte" love-fest, let\'s take a look at what these "legitimate rules" are, particularly as they apply to freedom of speech, expression, and something they like to call "material disruption of the educational environment."
The first item on the list is literature, specifically a student\'s right to post it. It reads "Students shall have the right to post any literature of a non-commercial nature without prior censorship or approval by the Administration or School Board in any designated posting area, provided, however, the designated representative shall be accorded the right to remove posted material s/he considers obscene, libelous or will cause material disruption to the educational environment." Let\'s stop and think a bit. I have the right to post whatever I want so long as my Administrators agree with it? Whose rights are we really talking about here? Well, I began to think and it occurred to me that maybe my Administrators and School Board representatives aren\'t so concerned that I express myself however I like. But, I can see their point; after all, I probably wouldn\'t want fifteen hundred students posting whatever they wanted to either. They might start to see the world outside these walls.
I proceeded reading. The next civil liberties violation I came across is stated as such: "Students shall have the right to wear buttons. . .and other symbolic expression provided these expressions are not obscene, libelous, or cause material disruption of the educational environment." So if I, Joe Student, am actively pro-life and I want to wear a button with a picture of an aborted fetus, I can\'t because someone is offended? Isn\'t that the point of democracy? To believe in something no matter what other people say and being able to voice an opinion? Am I expected to compromise my beliefs because someone doesn\'t agree with me? I hope not.
Next on the list of Administrator\'s--oops, I mean student\'s--rights is clothing and conduct. According to our elected school officials, we the students have "the right to choose (our) own dress, conduct, and personal appearance, insofar as (it does) not substantially disrupt, pose a clear and present danger to school operations, present an obscene appearance, or endanger health." Well, lovely. Perhaps I\'m just reading this wrong, but it seems to me that this bill of rights says that (paraphrased) "students can do what their administrators deem appropriate." Personally, I\'m insulted that the School Board and our Administrators, the very people that are supposed to be helping us become intelligent, free-thinking adults, really give themselves the right to make me change my clothes or remove symbols of my beliefs because it may rub someone the wrong way.
It\'s getting to the point where the WASPS downtown who have a very small idea what the students are really thinking make decisions for us on basic fundamental things, like our dress and expression of beliefs. Isn\'t the whole preamble of this bill