Use Hazelwood anniversary as a reminder to stand up for free speech rights

Student Press Law Center
The Hazelwood Day of Action marks the 30th Anniversary of the historic Hazelwood decision that limited student free speech rights in school.

Today, is the “Hazelwood Day of Action.” It marks the 30th anniversary since the infamous Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier case was decided upon by the Supreme Court.

The ruling of the case set the standard that schools have the right to censor student news without violating the First Amendment.

Although St. Paul Academy and Summit School is a private school, and thereby our practices may be different from those in public schools, individuals around SPA have mixed feelings about this case that gives administrators the right to censor student voices.

“Students should have the right to represent their community as they see fit,” said junior Elise Parsons. 

“Generally, I’m very much in favor of free speech,” said English teacher Philip de Sa e Silva. “But, I think it really depends on the case. I’ve heard of student news stories that have ruined teachers’ careers.”

So should the Hazelwood decision be thought of as a good one? No, it shouldn’t.

Having the ability to express oneself, no matter where in America an individual may be, is a great privilege that students shouldn’t have to give up within school. News reporting is factual, and the facts within a school environment are most likely within reach of all the students.

Journalists are the people that do that extra bit of prodding to find out where the facts can lead them. Pieces that serve as hate speech or any form of speech that exists to attack another individual or group should not be published because that is not what journalism is about and stands for. Journalism is about ethical reporting and analysis, and when students are given the responsibility to do it right, they rise to the challenge.

Schools should not be able to decide what facts the student body does and doesn’t know. It’s time to #cureHazelwood.