Students Suspended for Peaceful Protest

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Students who participated in a November 1st rally for peace at Morton West High School in Berwyn, IL were suspended and may even face expulsion. The students began their protest in the school’s cafeteria, and eventually moved it to the area designated by Superintendent Ben Nowakowski specifically for the protest. According to a statement released by Nowakowski, “[The protesters} were afforded the opportunity to take their protest outside where they would not be impeding the educational process and, if they did so, the would face no disciplinary action. Several members of the group elected to return to their classes.”Though some students locked arms, fearing police action, they all eventually moved on. However, the punishments being dolled out are extreme and unfair. Reports say, “some students with lower grades were given 10-day suspensions and face expulsion, while students favored by officials were given only five-day suspensions and do not face expulsion.”Here’s the kicker: These students weren’t just protesting the War. According to a CLTV/Tribune report “students say recruiters come to that school several times each week, hold competitions, tell them they should join the army—That’s what they were protesting.”These students were not just protesting the Iraq war, they were protesting the recruiters that impede their educational process—the same thing these students are being punished for. Let me quote Superintendent Ben Nowakowski again, “The incident that led to the suspensions had everything to do with disruption of the school day. While we respect the rights of students to express their views, that must be done in such a way as to respect the rights of the other 3,400 students at Morton West who are entitled to a peaceful, disruption-free school day.”There is a double standard here. The army can come to the schools each week and disrupt student flow and education, not to mention, target “psychologically immature kids” And yet students are punished for protesting recruitment. Hmm.None of these children, regardless of their academic records, deserve to be expelled for acting upon the first amendment. If these children are to be punished for “disruption of the school day,” then it seems that army recruiters should be expelled as well.

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