Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Editorial: Defend student press at Mountain View High School

Nadia Soberg
STUDENTS FIGHT CENSORSHIP — The Oracle Editor-in-Chief Hanna Olson and former adviser Carla Gomez converse with Student Press Law Center Executive Director Gary Green. “I hope that there can be some acknowledgment of the censorship,” Olson said.

Last spring, reporters at Mountain View High School’s The Oracle newspaper began reporting on students’ experiences with digital sexual harassment. After Oracle reporters reached out to administrators for interviews, MVHS principal Kip Glazer asked for prior review of the article and for specific changes to be made.

The article was published in print in April, though its writers told Verde the published version was watered down due to fear of retaliation from Glazer. Later that month, Glazer announced the removal of The Oracle adviser Carla Gomez due to her lack of Career Technical Education credential and the cancellation of the Introduction to Journalism course.

To uphold the rights of our fellow student journalists at MVHS, the MVHS administration must immediately begin to make amends for their censorship of The Oracle. In September, Gomez and The Oracle Editor-in-Chief Hanna Olson threatened legal action against school and district officials, alleging that Glazer’s actions were retaliation for the publication of the article, which Glazer had opposed. The MVHS administration’s actions violate California’s Education Code 48907, which gives California student journalists the right to free speech at school so long as it is not libelous, slanderous or obscene. The code also protects advisers from being “dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a pupil engaged in the conduct authorized under this section.”

Glazer’s actions are not only illegal, they are dangerous, as they have put the future of The Oracle, MVHS’s only student news publication, at risk. Previously, new staffers would have joined The Oracle having already received training through a prerequisite course. Now, Oracle leadership is left responsible for providing such training. Olson said Glazer’s censorship has damaged the relationship between The Oracle staff and its administration.

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“I feel as though our class has lost some of the trust in [our] administration,” Olson said. “When you’re trying to do things in the present, it’s really hard when you don’t even know how to deal with what happened in the past and what the future is going to look like.”

Glazer’s efforts to censor The Oracle undermine the rights of its reporters to work independently of administrators. As student journalists, our job is to provide a voice for students and our communities. Student press is vital to keep students in-
formed, shed light on relevant issues and hold leaders accountable. Glazer has undercut The Oracle’s ability to provide comprehensive reporting for MVHS and the greater Mountain View community.

In a guest essay for the Student Press Law Center, The Oracle Print In-Depth editor and writer of the sexual harassment article Myesha Pukhan wrote, “We published this story to uplift survivors of sexual harassment and their voices. The administration’s actions countered a part of that impact.”

We agree. The MVHS administration must reinstate the Introduction to Journalism course and Gomez as adviser. As California student journalists, we are lucky to have broad student press laws that allow us to serve our communities to the fullest extent possible. We must be vigilant in holding those who attempt to undermine our rights accountable so that our rights are preserved.

*Editors’ note: Due to his engagement with the events at MVHS outside of his work at Verde, our adviser did not read or comment on this editorial before its publication. See full feature story here.