Clara Lightner, the Foss HS sophomore who led Students Against the Draft and War in protesting the cancellation Thursday of a speaker on military recruitment, announced Friday that in a meeting Principal Sharon Schauss has agreed to proposals to resolve all outstanding issues: "It all went so well that there is no more need to call or e-mail," she writes...
[From Clara Lightner]
FOSS HIGH STUDENTS WIN VICTORY FOR FREE SPEECH AND COUNTER-RECRUITMENT MOVEMENT
By Clara Lightner (sophomore at Foss High School, Tacoma, WA)
** Thanks to everyone who called in to support us **
May 6, 2005
I'm happy to announce that Principal Sharon Schauss has finally agreed to our proposals for Students Against the Draft and War. This victory for free speech was the result of the tremendous student support we recieved in Foss and also the phone calls to my administrators from thousands of supporters from around the country and world. Today I had a meeting with Principal Schauss and informed her of SADW's three key demands:
1. The right to find out two weeks before the military recruiters are scheduled to come to our school. We also want the right to put up a table next to the recruiters with alternative points of view and information.
2. The right to have weekly meetings in the school in order to build our student club.
3. Permission for having the meeting next Tuesday, May10, that we had planned for May 5, including the guest speaker, Ty Moore, of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Principal Schauss has agreed to the first two demands. She will also agree to the third one after she has seen the video we are going to show: "Military Myths," which I plan to bring to her on Monday. She will also talk to the school board and go through the necessary procedures to have guest speaker Ty Moore come in.
I'd also like to describe how May 5th went. That morning, before school, I went into Principal Schauss's office with a member of Socialist Alternative, Jessica Pruitt, who has been helping out with the campaign. We asked Principal Schauss whether or not she was allowing the meeting to happen that afternoon. Mrs. Schauss, of course, told us we could not hold the meeting because we had not filled out all the proper paperwork and did not have $1 million in insurance. Although we had a chartered student club willing to sponsor us, she still would not let us hold a meeting. This is a hypocritical double standard because other student clubs don't need to fill out paper work or get Principal Schauss's approval to bring guests into our school. After not letting us explain ourselves for most of the meeting, Principal Schauss threw us out of her office. Jessica was attempting to explain that she was not clear on the procedure when Principal Schauss yelled at us to exit the office. We immediately took that as another infringement on our rights as students.
That afternoon, we called a press conference. I spread the news through the entire school and passed out fliers urging students to meet in front of the school for a protest/press conference. A couple newspapers showed up, Tacoma News Tribune and the Tacoma Weekly. I was interviewed and gave a speech to the students who were there. The speech went well, except for one point where the JROTC who had been watching attempted to disrupt by laughing loudly. I, of course, thanked them for being so mature and went on speaking. Also, Principal Schauss attempted to break up the press conference in the middle by making an announcement over the intercom for everyone to leave. She was ignored and the meeting went on very well. We had 40 students sign up for our e-mail list and met students who were very interested in becoming very involved. We now have nearly 100 students signed up on the list.
This morning, I found a large article about the event in the Tacoma News Tribune. It made the front cover of the local news section with a large picture of myself giving my speech. (It can be found here.)
I've also had a few confrontations with JROTC students who were quite angry with me, but I was able to explain myself. I found that most of the JROTC students are very open-minded and considerate. We are not against the JROTC students. We understand that most young people join the military because they don't see any decent jobs or educational opportunities out there. We are against people being signed up to die for a war about oil and empire. We are fighting for more money for jobs and education so young people can chose an alternative to the military. Hopefully, we will make peace with them and will be able to have meetings in the future with no problem. We are also offering the JROTC students the opportunity to come to any of our meetings to watch or speak if they request it.
So, I'd like to thank everyone who called in and e-mailed Principal Sharon Schauss and Superintendent James Shoemake. Even the steelworkers national union office called me to guarantee 100 calls to my principal from their members, and more support if we needed it. The entire school was aware that they had been receiving hundreds of phone calls each day from all over the world. I'd like to thank members of the local coalition for their help. I'd like to give a special thanks to Socialist Alternative, the organization I joined recently, for giving me help, support, advice, and all the resources I needed. It all went so well that there is no more need to call or e-mail. We will also update everyone on how next Tuesday goes.
Thank you all again for calling and supporting us. This has been a major success for our school and for Students Against the Draft and War.
Clara Lightner, sophomore at Foss High School, Tacoma, WA
Students Against the Draft and War