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Journalist testifies for student free expression legislation

Students attend Minnesota House Education Committee hearing

Speaking+up%3A+Senior+Emma+Yarger+tes-+tifies+March+5%2C+urging+the+House+to+pass+the+student+free+expression+bill.
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Journalist testifies for student free expression legislation

Speaking up: Senior Emma Yarger tes- tifies March 5, urging the House to pass the student free expression bill.

Speaking up: Senior Emma Yarger tes- tifies March 5, urging the House to pass the student free expression bill.

Grace Farley

Speaking up: Senior Emma Yarger tes- tifies March 5, urging the House to pass the student free expression bill.

Grace Farley

Grace Farley

Speaking up: Senior Emma Yarger tes- tifies March 5, urging the House to pass the student free expression bill.

Dani Orloff

As senior Emma Yarger testified alongside three others in favor of the student free expression legislation, she said she felt powerful having a platform to express her point of view.

“It was really cool to have the attention of so many adults on you because I feel like as a student you don’t always get the opportunity to capture attention like that and especially being able to talk about an issue that I care about so much was really amazing to have that captive audience,” Yarger said.

According to Echo adviser Lori Keekley, Echo staffers attended a House Education Committee hearing March 5 to discuss and pass the New Voices bill. According to Keekley, the legislation aims to clarify the role of student journalists and their administrators in dealing with student free expression, using the Echo’s standards as a baseline.

“The goal of the bill is for students to have First Amendment rights and be back under the Tinker standard and not under the Hazelwood standard from 1988,” Keekley said. “So, what it does is it further clarifies how administrators function and how student journalists function.”

According to Keekley, the legislation focuses on public high school journalists.

“I think we started the bill three to four years ago,” Keekley said. “It has been a work in progress and it’s had different iterations.”

I think it is really important that New Voices gets passed because we’re really lucky on the Echo to be able to write what we do write and what we want to write but not every student journalist has that opportunity”

— Emma Yarger, senior

Senior Sam St. Clair, who attended the hearing, said she found the process of passing the bill through committee fascinating.

“We did that a little bit in civics freshman year, but it was really interesting to see it happen in front of you,” St. Clair said. “I think the bill is very important for student journalism because censorship is definitely a big problem in our community and having a bill like this would definitely help out a lot of schools and a lot of papers.”

Yarger said she feels saddened thinking of students, like those who testified with her, that are censored in their journalistic pursuits.

“I think it is really important that New Voices gets passed because we’re really lucky on the Echo to be able to write what we do write and what we want to write but not every student journalist has that opportunity,” Yarger said. “I think the things that I’ve learned through this process and through my years working on a publication are not comparable to any other class.”

St. Clair said the student and teacher testimonies at the hearing were impactful.

“I think it would have been nice if we could have gotten other student testimonies that actually had been censored but that can be hard, but I think the testimonies that we did have showed how censorship can impact communities and how schools can successfully run through the Tinker standard, like they’re trying to achieve with the new bill,” St. Clair said.

According to Keekley, the legislation dropped in the senate March 7 and will be voted on soon. Echo will provide an update when more information becomes available.

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About the Writer
Dani Orloff, Editor-in-Chief

Hey guys! My name is Dani and I’m the Editor-in-Chief this year! When I am not devoting my time to Echo, you can find me in the kitchen training to become...

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Journalist testifies for student free expression legislation