Head to Head: Should We Have Politics In The Student Voice?

Educate, Not Isolate


Photo credit: Spencer O'Brien

A copy of a typical Student Voice.

History has shown us that when teenagers get involved, amazing things can happen.

After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, a handful of students created the March for Our Lives movement in order to instigate a change in the current gun control laws, successfully unifying students around the United States to get out of their chairs and protest for what they believe in. 

In 2014, young activists appeared on the frontlines of the Ferguson protests after the wrongful killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown and sparked a larger conversation about police brutality and the injustices within our justice system. As teenagers, we are taught that if we inform ourselves about a cause, there is nothing we cannot do.

This is just one of the many reasons why we need to have politics in the Student Voice.

Let’s backtrack. Recently, a member of the Cabinet made a call for the Student Voice, the informational handout distributed during Student Government every Friday morning, to stop putting political information on its back page. According to a record of Parliamentarian Eli Moog, the first to bring this issue to light, the student body should be able to say what they want in the Voice without politics getting in the way. 

Moog brought it up in a Cabinet meeting on November 12, in order to make sure that the student body should have a say as to what political information is placed in the Student Voice. Moog also felt that the Cabinet should include not just the liberal side of the political spectrum but the conservative side as well. Rather, if the voice is going to include politics, Moog felt the Voice should include comments from different students who believe in either liberal and conservative ideals and their stances on these news events.

During this meeting, Moog stated that he felt that the decision to expose the student body to news stories going on around the world was, as a record of the statement reads, too big of a decision for Cabinet to make. This, of course, is a perfectly logical argument, so long as the Voice is trying to only show one side of the political spectrum. 

But the Voice isn’t placing more emphasis on one side or another, so the argument is moot. 

The Voice includes every news story that is relevant to the student body at the time of distribution. Whether that includes the latest in the Trump impeachment hearings, information about National Period Day, or what state officials were elected to office, the news placed in the Voice is designed to inform students about what is happening in our government at this point in time. 

Quite frankly, this constant source of news is helpful for understanding every major current news story at 9 a.m. on a Friday morning. I, for one, would be drastically ill-informed about the state of our country if I didn’t read the Voice each week. I’m not a politics-hungry guy, apart from the occasional Apple News alert I get on my phone whenever an important news story drops. So the ability to have a constant source of news stories—especially political ones—that I can count on to provide concise facts about what happened that week is extremely helpful.

Case in point: the impeachment hearings. Ever since the Democrats announced their investigation into the possible impeachment of President Trump, I have been lost and confused as to what each witness meant to the case and what their testimonies brought up. And each time a new witness came to testify to the impeachment committee, the Voice was there to print the basic essentials: who they were, why they mattered, and what they revealed. And because of that, I can safely say that I and several members of the student body were able to keep up with this complicated and messy legal procedure.

The inclusion of the news in the Voice isn’t for those who keep their CNN alerts turned on daily, attempting to keep up with the latest complicated news story. It’s for the rest of the student body, the ones who don’t have as much of an interest in news stories and would rather read a two-sentence blurb about a story than read a three-page article about it.   

Also, who gets to decide what is relevant? Who are we to dictate who that person has to be? It would only be a real problem if the Voice was deliberately harming our values or trying to perpetuate myths and promote “fake news” to the student body. But again, it isn’t. Paige Shayne, the Editor of the Student Voice, clearly knows what she is doing, and our news section of the Voice is in capable hands.

While the inclusion of outside politics is a new addition to the Voice, this is not the first time the Voice has strived to be more than a handful of puzzles and agenda information. As recently as 2010, the Student Voice contained important and controversial information circling the Parker community that would normally be found in the editorials of the Parker Weekly. 

Every Friday, students would receive the Voice and learn about every last piece of information, controversial or not, that was circling the Parker community. And, in 2010, the Voice was met with plenty of praise and interest from both students and teachers alike for its activism and transformation to a true platform of information. 

That isn’t to say that past versions of the Voice have not been interesting or well designed, but they should not be seen as the model version of what the Editor should be printing on a weekly basis. Shayne is not trying to advance a biased agenda on the type of news that students read every Friday. She’s simply trying to inform the student body about what is happening outside the Parker bubble. And what’s the harm in that?

Keeping ourselves isolated does nothing for us, both as students and teenagers in the age of social media. And I’m not going to close out this article by claiming we have a “moral duty” to involve ourselves in politics and world news. What I am going to say is that The Voice is a student-led source of news, the same as The Weekly, Phaedrus, and Scout, trying to fulfill its sole purpose: to inform the student body. 

So why bother censoring this one publication over news that we could get on our phone the next day? Does it really matter that a half-page of the Voice is utilized to inform the student body on important news topics? If it’s being impartial, then no. No, it shouldn’t matter. Don’t argue for isolation. Argue for a simple education that one of our members of the student body works hard to give to us every Friday morning. Quite simply: respect the Voice.