The Jaguar Journal

The Student News Site of North Creek High School

The Jaguar Journal

The Jaguar Journal

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Silencing Voices of Success

Luka Beadnell

Originally Published in the May 23rd Print Publication

The cancellation of valedictorian speeches in high schools and prestigious universities has become a controversial subject, with the most recent case being the University of California (USC) canceling their speech. This decision, supposedly made for safety, is taking away from the recognition valedictorian Asna Tabassum deserves.

A valedictorian is meant to be outstanding, to represent excellence, determination, and persistence. The countless hours of work, the sacrifices, and the level of discipline, deserves recognition. Canceling their speeches takes away from the motivation and importance of academic success and sends a message to students striving for excellence.

USC claims that this decision was made for the safety of their valedictorian Asna Tabassum. Tabassum consistently showed her support of Palestinians on her social media pages, which caused others to accuse her of being anti-semitic. Provost Andrew Guzman uploaded a statement on the USC website April 15th, 2024 saying that “the intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement. This decision is not only necessary to maintain the safety of our campus and students, but is consistent with the fundamental legal obligation.” Yes, safety is very important, especially for students. So is honoring the years of hard work it takes to get the title of valedictorian.

Tabassum issued a statement on Portside saying “I am both shocked by this decision and profoundly disappointed that the University is succumbing to a campaign of hate meant to silence my voice,” she said. “I am not aware of any specific threats against me or the university” and that they would not give her any information on the threats the school has received. USC also informed her that they did have the resources and security to protect her while doing the speech, but would not be using them because that’s not the image they want for the school.

USC’s claim that this decision was out of “concern and safety” is easy to doubt. If so they would have provided the necessary precautions instead of prioritizing their image. They took this achievement from her without acknowledging the work she put in to achieve that title. Simply because she spoke up for something she believes in. It’s apparent that USC loves silencing voices.

What is this going to teach students? Not to speak about important issues? Should they stay quiet in fear of losing a role they deserve? Students like Tabassum deserve better. The school system which is supposedly one of the best has failed her tremendously. The claims of safety, and concern, seem as if they are an excuse to avoid controversy of her beliefs, which is wildly disappointing. Outstanding students like Tabassum deserve recognition, regardless of their politics.

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About the Contributors
Abby Smith, Reporter
Graphics and Reporter
Luka Beadnell, Graphics, Editor
Luka Beadnell Graphics and Grammar Editor This paper probably wouldn't look or read well if Luka wasn't helping.
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