Last February, Drake University hosted Mary Beth Tinker, champion of student speech ever since her victory in Tinker v. Des Moines, and several student journalists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, location of a devastating school shooting in 2018. The speakers delivered a powerful message on the importance of student journalism that is immortalized in the new documentary, “Raise Your Voice.”
Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, otherwise known as the SJMC, acquired the rights to the documentary until Oct. 31 to show students the power of their voices and inspire the next generation of journalists.
For Sophie Gloo, journalism student at Drake, the documentary was a call to action.
“Seeing these kids that are younger than me have such a big impact was sort of a wake-up call—maybe I should be doing a little more with the voice that I have and speak out about these issues,” Gloo said.
The documentary reminded Gloo of the struggles she faces as a student journalist.
“A lot of high school students don’t feel like they have a way of expressing their opinions and their voice,” Gloo said. “When I was in high school, and even sometimes now, I don’t feel like people take me seriously because I’m only 20 years old.”
Kathleen Richardson, dean of the SJMC, believes strongly in uplifting these student voices.
“High school journalists and college journalists are also journalists, and they are serving their community, even if their community is just the campus,” Richardson said.
Richardson referenced the Times-Delphic’s coverage of Drake’s refusal to release the COVID numbers.
“There were some issues on campus earlier this year with the student newspaper pressing the administration for information about the pandemic, and it called into question the role of student media on campus and the role of media in general in a time like this,” Richardson said.
Drake’s release of the COVID numbers on Sept. 14, 11 days after a change.org petition by the Times-Delphic reached 1,500 signatures, echoes Mary Beth Tinker’s sentiment on student speech.
“It was the power of young people speaking for themselves about their own interests,” Tinker said in the documentary. “Sure, adults can be advocates for children and teenagers and we can be their allies, but when young people speak for themselves, that is so powerful.”
Melissa Falkowski, journalism teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, understands the importance of teaching young people the strength of their own voices.
“When you turn 18, nothing magically changes,” Falkowski said in the documentary. “If we’re not going to train our kids in elementary, middle school and high school to use their voices, how are they going to go out into the world and have a say and participate if we haven’t taught them how to do that?”
With America in turmoil, these voices are more important than ever.
“Listening to student speech is essential in knowing what problems are facing future generations and the future of our country,” Gloo said. “Not only are they your next generation of voters, but they’re also your kids, your grandkids, people that you should care about.”
Drake students can raise their own voices by writing for student publications such as the Times-Delphic, Drake Mag and Drake Political Review, or by hosting a segment on Drake’s radio station, The Dog.