Trump administration changes school’s culture


Illustration by Andrea Giacomini

On Nov. 8, 2016 we experienced a monumental shift in our country, a divide that seemed too deep to transcend. Many came to school the following day as bereaved individuals mourning the loss of our nation’s ideals, fearful of the unexpected.

Protests erupted; our rights were in jeopardy; minorities felt the sting of hatred; and our prospects looked grim. The days of coasting were over. The days of being uninformed about politics had disappeared.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the fear that people felt on election day amplified. Cataclysmic changes were on the horizon.

When I was a freshman, I was more naive than I am now. But it seemed as though my class wasn’t the only one that was blissfully unaware. This wasn’t just a freshman stereotype.

Naiveté is a common staple among the student body. But unforeseeable changes would soon transform our entire campus’ culture, forcing us to address issues that were previously swept under the rug.
With so many unknowns circulating, I was able to take comfort in knowing that our school supported us. In strange ways, the Trump administration has been a blessing in disguise, because it has forced us to unmask our innocence.

In liberal Marin, people often think they are doing everything they can to promote equality. But it’s the inherent discrimination in our county that cuts like knives.

Just this past year, our school implemented the S.O.A.R. program to combat racism. The Students of Color and Allies Club brings these issues to the forefront of our community. Initiatives like this just didn’t exist when I was freshman.

Administrators have realized that educating us not only on our nation’s past, but on our nation’s present, prepares us for our future.

Donald Trump has given hateful people an outlet for expressing their beliefs, but I rest assured knowing that disparaging speech isn’t tolerated here. His comments have opened our eyes to negative opinions that exist in our country, and I have seen our school take steps to educate us on our nation’s polarized views.

Textbooks, tests, and assignments are important, but they can only take us so far. Bringing up these topics in class, and understanding the root causes of this political and social divide, is paramount.
It wasn’t until allegations were made and women spoke up about the abuses they endured that our school offered consent training. Winter Formal was canceled because of reports of sexual assault. Four years ago, I never saw a security guard at a school dance.

Wristbands weren’t a requirement, and breathalyzing wasn’t randomly conducted outside the gym. Rules have become exponentially more stringent.

Some of these changes have come with their fair share of problems and annoyances, but maybe they’re just working out the kinks.

Times are changing, and our school must change with them. The alternatives that have been proposed are not the final solutions, but I trust that we have the ability to find the ones that are.

I think it was a realization made by our staff that sparked such shifts in our school’s culture. It isn’t enough to let students make these mistakes and hope that they learn from them.

It isn’t enough to prepare for the worst with a lockdown drill. We must invite conversation on the topic of gun control, and open up the floor for students to share their thoughts.

It isn’t enough to learn about the activism of the past. We must encourage advocacy and action now. We have to be brave enough to ask and answer the tough questions.

No one can predict the kinds of challenges we’ll encounter after graduation, the opinions we’ll hear, or even the hate that we’ll be exposed to. As my graduating class prepares to enter this crazy world, I somehow believe we’re ready.

We’ve witnessed this culture change; we’ve taken part in this culture change. Our education has gone beyond the classroom walls.

I am honored to have seen that evolution. I am proud to be a part of a culture continually striving for improvement.

In order to send a group of compassionate, motivated, and intelligent young adults into this world every year, the culture here must stay relevant, stay informed, stay open-minded, and stay dedicated to inclusion. This priority trumps just about everything else.