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Student journalists lead the way in New Voices legislation

The legislation based organization is working with students to restore rights to high school journalists.

Students from different states were asked to summarize what censorship meant to them in one word. Here are their responses.

Alex Brown, staff writer

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Many adults avoid even discussing the topic of government, and jokes about the ineffectiveness of legislators are not hard to find. Regardless of the perceived challenges in creating change within the government, New Voices U.S. is calling on students to help create legislation in their states to combat student censorship.

Founded by University of Jamestown students in 2013, New Voices U.S was created as a response to the 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court ruling, which declared the First Amendment rights of student journalists are not violated when school officials prevent the publication of certain articles in the school newspaper. In an effort to further increase journalistic freedom, New Voices aims to create and pass legislation which supports the rights of students journalists to publish their pieces by declaring school censorship as a First Amendment violation.

“Of course there are times where journalism is going to tell uncomfortable truths,” New Voices director of engagement Diana Mitsu Clos said. “It both celebrates the great times in a school, but sometimes it has to acknowledge the tragedies that occur as well… What’s important is these issues simply be discussed and surfaced.”

Dulce Martinez

Although all striving towards the same goal, there are many different aspects that lead to the New Voices’ success. Most influential, however, are the students who have joined the fight to restore their rights.

“I think students, just as they’re on the frontline of journalism at their schools, they’re also the frontline advocates to insure that their voices are heard unimpeded,” Mitsu Clos said. “And that they and their advisors should not face retaliation for simply practicing sound journalism.

Student participation in New Voices, while ultimately nationally oriented, is focused on the local level. Not only is the student advocacy inspiring and benefitting journalists themselves, but also the readers and supporters of student-run publications.

“When the school’s journalists use their resources start fighting censorship, it shines a light on an issue students not in the program wouldn’t know about,” senior Tara Yazdan Panah said. “It opens up the path for other students to join them and do the same.”

The fight for students’ First Amendment rights was sparked by New Voices, but is in the hands of the students who take action into creating legislation. New Voices is supporting and utilizing the personal inspiration of student journalists in order to create change on a wide scale.

“If you look at history in this country and all around the world, students have always been at the forefront of change and social change,” Mitsu Clos said. “That’s the case here as well.

To which degree should students be censored?

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The School Newspaper of Carlsbad High School
Student journalists lead the way in New Voices legislation