Students speak up

Students speak up

Every student deserves to have their voice heard, regardless if they’re a reporter or not. In particular, the student journalists of Iowa have several court cases, such as the Tinker v. Des Moines case, to thank for that.

The Tinker v. Des Moines case helped set the stage for aiding students gaining their voices in journalism. Students at a Des Moines public school organized a silent protest against the Vietnam War. Their plan was to wear black armbands to protest the war.

The Des Moines school principal told the students that if they wore the armbands they would be suspended. The students wore the armbands anyway and were suspended.

During the suspension the students’ parents sued the school for violating the students freedom of speech. While a lower court sided with the schools decision, ruling that wearing the armbands could disrupt learning. On Feb. 24, 1969, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the students, saying the students free rights should be protected.

But in 1988 journalism students faced a temporary setback with the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier  case. Students at Hazelwood East High School published an issue of the schools newspaper, the Spectrum, containing stories about teen pregnancy and divorce.

In result of the principal deeming these inappropriate, he deleted two issue pages containing the offensive material, prior to publication. Since the students felt their First Amendment rights had been violated, they took their case to the U.S. Court of the Eastern District of Missouri.

The court ended up siding with the school ruling that the school had the authority to remove any written articles. The Student Press Law Center reported that the U.S. Supreme Court rules that public high school officials had the authority to censor school-sponsored student publications.

The ruling doesn’t apply to Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, and Massachusetts because they’ve passed laws giving students stronger freedom of expression protection than the Hazelwood case.

This issue is still relevant today, as can be seen by student rallies being held. A student rally hosted by the Iowa Student Learning Institute is being held at the Iowa State Capitol Complex on March 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., to have their opinions voiced and heard. Students are encouraged to gather, talk with political figures, discuss current events and issues, and learn about politics. I believe this rally is a great idea because students from all over Iowa are encouraged to speak their opinions on current issues and events.