Protesting Is Not Enough To Have an Effect on Policy

Students from RHS and Richard Montgomery walked out of school Nov. 16 to Rockville Town Center, with the intention to protest President-elect Donald Trump’s election.

Another larger student protest was held at Blair HS, where Einstein and Northwood HS also joined forces. Both RHS and Blair’s administration only allowed the protests to occur on school campus, but students left the designated areas.

While this form of peaceful protest is a valid one, there are other actions that student can take to make a difference. Since many highschoolers are not of age to vote, they still have the ability to campaign for the candidate of their choice.

If someone has a strong opinion about who they want for President, it does not do any good to simply complain about it. Instead, work for the goal and contribute to what you believe in. The worst thing an impassioned person can do is to sit around feeling apathetic about the election process without attempting to do anything.

“If the timing of a protest is in response to an injustice or to voice displeasure, and it is timely, then it is possible for it to be effective,” social studies teacher and political literacy club sponsor Brad Goldberg said. “Protesting for the sake of protesting however, is not … as effective as working in an organization that can do more constructive work for change, to try to change policy, whereas a protest, as much as it may feel good to voice frustration, is not necessarily going to accomplish much.”

It is not a good enough excuse to say that you are too young to vote and therefore can do nothing. This generation of students is the future and the President that is elected for the four-year term will have an effect on our lives as we will all be adult by the time the term is up.

So go out and do something. And then, if you can honestly say that you tried your hardest and done your part, then peaceful protest may be the next option to look at.

However, it is important to have an endgame. What do you want your protest to amount to? What is the desired effect/ outcome?

While the ability to protest is an immensely important part of the first amendment that should be kept sacred, protesting just to make noise is a waste of time and displaced effort.

All of this is not to say that student protests are a waste of time, because they are not. But, individuals have to hold themselves accountable for their own futures, and accept the consequences of not putting in the effort to make a difference. This goes for not just the election, but life goals and ambitions in general.

“If you want to make a difference, the first step before you get involved in an organization is to get informed,” Goldberg said. “Get informed on different issues and perspectives. Then you can make an informed decision about how you feel.”

According to MCPS, students participating in any protests during the school day would be marked absent in the classes that they have missed. However, their absence would later be excused with a note from a parent or guardian.

We’re hoping that [this protest] will [make a difference], and if it doesn’t, at least we’re being heard,” sophomore Antonio Villatoro said. “This seems to be the only way that we can be heard.”