Pictured: GHS Students walking out of 7th Period on January 20, 2017
Photo Credit: Bailey Bates
On Jan. 20, many students from Gresham High School walked out of class before 7th period in protest of the Inauguration of Donald Trump.
The students who participated in the walkout started at the front of GHS and marched down to Gresham City Hall, where they protested for around 30 minutes. While the administrative staff were aware of it and worked to keep classes running, the protest stirred a good amount of controversy within the student body.
From the time word got out about the protest, many people questioned whether or not students had the right to protest en masse during school. While the walkout only took place during 7th period, this didn’t change the fact that hundreds of students were skipping a class. With all of that being said, I still believe that walking out of class in protest, political or not, is well within the rights of a student body.
The students that protested did so peacefully. While they marched, they were aware of the fact that they were in a public space. At one point, they even parted the protest to let a truck through. I’m sure many people’s sentiments on the walkout would be different had the students just been rowdy and inconsiderate.
One of the main arguments against student walkouts is that the students are essentially choosing to skip a class. This argument was only fueled by the fact that dozens of students took advantage of the walkout to just go home early. Students don’t just choose to walk out to get out of class, though; they do it to get more attention towards their cause and to make a larger impact on their community and beyond. If we were to instead plan a protest on our own time (i.e. after School), most people wouldn’t bat an eye. They would just write the students off as a bunch of kids with too much time on their hands. By instead walking out of class, it sends a message to the public that says “We are not afraid to make a scene over a cause that we are passionate about”. This is why walkouts are a generally accepted form of student protest. It sends a much stronger message than any other form of peaceful student protest.
High school is a time where most kids begin to form their own opinions about the world, be it a political opinion or what things they are interested in pursuing. In many cases, especially with politics, they want a way to make their voice heard. In a time where teenage opinions are being largely disregarded, student walkouts give them a way to make their voices heard, and we as a nation built largely on protest need to learn to embrace them instead of discourage them.