Some may feel stifled or censored by campus culture at their schools. I even concede that I have known many peers who have felt the same. I myself was once one of them. However, at this point, I really feel no such restraint on me. In my view, who cares what I think or what others think of me? I know that, when I look back on this time of my life, I will regret the things I chose not to say in the fear of criticism. Beyond that, the simple reality is that, in order for someone to censor you, they have to step out of the veil of ambiguity of being one in many in a silent room and face you directly, at least in real interaction, to tell you your view is invalid. That takes serious courage, and odds are most of the people defending conformity are perfectly content when hiding in it. In my eyes, speaking your mind is both acknowledgment of oneself and an act of intimidation to those who would silence you.
— Ethan, Glenbard West High School, IL
I believe that people have the right to disagree with opposing political ideologies, especially somewhere like a college where people of all different backgrounds, ages, cultures, and religions roam. If people exclude you just because of your opinions they weren’t worth your time anyways. Don’t take these little things to heart, learn to grow as a person, listen to others, and create your own opinions on subject matters.
— Demarcus, Block 1 Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC
Self-Censorship Can Be Important
As a student, who is currently active in various politically led organizations, I tend to hold many strong beliefs, and feel comfortable sharing these beliefs, when appropriate. While I see no harm in students being able to speak freely of their own personal beliefs, and encourage them to do so, I do find having a sense of self-censorship can be beneficial in regarding a time and place to discuss such topics, and doing so respectfully.
When discounting all sense of self-censorship one can appear impolite or irrelevant, as demonstrated in the recent State of Union Address passed where President Joe Biden, was delivering his speech, and happened to be discussing the tragedy of his son, who away after developing brain cancer from toxin exposure when stationed in Iraq. Lauren Boebert, in the midst of Biden speaking out about his son, shouted “You put them in, 13 of them!” Boebert referenced the 13 other Americans who served and were killed in an bombing attack in Kabul. Whilst Boebert’s claim stands true, this outburst appeared impolite and harsh when Biden was discussing something so personal as his son’s passing. While I find everyone, including students, should be able and comfortable to speak on political and social topics in a school environment, I still find the need to do so in a timely, and in an appropriate manner.
— Jenna, Bryant High School
Although some people think that “self-censoring” your thoughts in the classroom is important in order to avoid disapproval from classmates or teachers’ feelings, there is also an aspect of censoring what you say just to protect the others. Oftentimes there are thoughts that come about during a topic that may not be suitable for the learning environment — especially since they can be offensive. Depending on the student or teacher’s background, some conversations can be touchy, so it’s vital to think before you speak to not offend anybody, not just to avoid disapproval.
— Veronica, Glenbard West HS
Creating Environments That Promote Healthy Debate
I think this is a question of policy because our speech is heavily concerned on our school environment. If someone feels calm, safe and heard in a room, they will have no problem saying whatever comes to mind, while someone who has been bullied throughout their school years, been picked on and not allowed to voice their opinions would feel completely different. In order to make sure that kids stop feeling this way, the adults in school need to make sure justice is served to those that need it and that the school is a safe place for kids to voice their thoughts. Parents, at home need to make sure that they’re able to give their child attention and the proper care that they need in order for their confidence to increase.
— Aasia, Glenbard West High School
Camps believes that criticism is an important part to a successful and purposeful discussion. She also implies that in order for criticism to exist, there needs to be disagreeing and an exchange of clashing ideas instead of a boring discussion where every idea is repeated because people are scared to say something else. Though I concede that criticism is important for discussions and personal growth, I also insist that it can be harmful in some ways. When criticism is given in the wrong manner, it can be uncomfortable, and for some even hurtful. I encourage people to give constructive criticism, a way to respectfully give feedback and suggestions.
— Kevin, United States