Letter: Media Ban of March 14 Event at GHS Was Excessive

Letter to the editor submitted by Michele Turk, president of the Connecticut Press Club, March 22, 2018

As the parent of a Greenwich High School junior, nothing is more important to me than student safety. However, I disagree with the decision by Greenwich public school administrators to ban media outlets from covering the March 14 student demonstrations honoring the victims of the Parkland, Fla., shooting.

While the purported reason for the media ban was to minimize disruption and maintain safety, it’s worth noting that the threat was already minimized by holding a tightly orchestrated indoor rally as opposed to allowing a walkout. Taking the extra step of prohibiting a handful of local reporters from covering the event was excessive.

More to the point, these teenagers are coming of age at a time when attempts to restrict press freedoms have become commonplace, and educators should not become complicit in these actions.

Instead, I’d like to see more efforts to educate students about the role of a free press in a democracy and encourage them to use First Amendment freedoms to generate change.

In a letter sent to families, Superintendent Jill Gildea said, “The superintendent and Greenwich High School administration have engaged student leaders in a discussion as to how best to direct the energy arising from a potential student walkout to activities that are jointly planned and implemented in order to (1) give voice to concerns over school safety, (2) minimize disruption of the educational process, and (3) maintain student safety.”

If the media were present at the GHS assembly on March 14, students’ voices would not only have been heard, but those voices — strong, passionate, and eloquent — would echo.

See also:

Letter: GHS students need a neutral environment to explore, research all angles of a subject, let their imaginations travel far, be creative.

Indivisible Greenwich Statement on Greenwich Schools Response To Nationwide Walkout