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Can We Talk?

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After the political divide that has happened nationwide in these past years, do students feel comfortable speaking about their political beliefs as they return back to campus?

It looks like the divided partisan world of adult politics has found its way to 801 Niblick Road.

 

In a survey conducted questioning 8.5 percent of the student population on whether they feel comfortable or not speaking about their political opinions on campus, around 60 percent said that they would possibly feel comfortable voicing their opinion, while 40 percent said that they’d feel uncomfortable.

 

Of those surveyed 23.1 percent identified themselves as Republicans, 19.4 percent  as Democrats, and 57.5 percent being Independent or unsure of their political standing.  

 

According to the survey results, students who identified as Republicans seemed to be the most comfortable talking in front of their peers who may have a differing opinion than them.

 

Of the Republican students who answered, 80 percent responded feeling comfortable.

Independents were the second most comfortable as 72 percent felt comfortable.

Lastly Democrat students were the least comfortable with 63 percent. 

 

According to college vine, a site dedicated to helping students navigate the process of applying to college, political engagement is important as a young teen. “… shows that you’ve taken an interest in the world beyond yourself….” said college vine. “Colleges like to see that applicants are projecting past their college years and considering how they might eventually have an effect on the world at large. Whether or not you become a politician, your precocious interest in politics indicates that you’re already thinking about what issues are of importance to you,” said college vine.

Such a process of debate is important to the administration of PRHS. Superintendent, Dr. Curt Dubost, wants students to be able to have civil conversations where they can agree to disagree. 

“I would hope that there would be a culture in every classroom where people are allowed to share controversial ideas, as long as it’s not done in a mean way to try and beat somebody or whatever, as long as it’s legitimate debate that presents both sides of an issue, objectively, that doesn’t put anybody down for having a different opinion,” Dubost said.

To make students more comfortable speaking or representing their political beliefs, PRHS has a guidance policy for how teachers and staff must conduct themselves concerning controversial ideas – Regulation 6144: Controversial Issues.  

Overton

Principal Anthony Overton is hoping to run a program in February or March called Rachel’s Challenge that hopes to create a safe and comfortable environment on campus. 

“ It’s really a program all about kindness and acceptance of others. And the way we treat each other. And I think that’s probably the first thing that means that people need to hear. So we can have a genuine conversation because right now I’m sad to say that I think a lot of people default to anger or malice towards somebody just because they have a different opinion,” Overton said.

As of now, the school is promoting tolerance campaigns to encourage a more civil campus.

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