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Students react to recent UK, US news

Photo used with permission from TapTheForwardAssist/Wikimedia Comments
Pro-Trump rioters assemble outside the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 to protest the certification of Biden’s win after false accusations of a fraudulent election conspired. Four civilians and a Capitol police officer were killed when the protest turned violent.

While it is just a few weeks into the new year, a lot has happened in 2021. Here is everything that’s happened so far and what student voices in our community have to say about it:

U.K. goes into third national lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another national lockdown Jan. 4 in the U.K. after previously putting certain areas in the U.K. into Tier 4 Dec. 20, 2020. According to CNN, Boris said the decision to enforce another lockdown was in response to increasing COVID-19 cases and a dangerous new variant.

One of the recent changes that came with the increased restrictions is that in-person learning has been put on hold again, causing a variety of emotions among the student body.

Sage Bellinger-Wehner (’24) said distance learning is more challenging than in school learning.

“I’m just exhausted,” she said. “Staring at your laptop for four hours with small breaks in between is the most tiring thing.”

Meanwhile, Eric Henrikson (’21) said although this is a challenging time for everyone, it is important to appreciate the benefits of attending the first semester in-person.

“It’s obviously a little bit frustrating, I don’t think anyone really likes it more,” he said. “But we did have this, you know, the privilege of being in-person for the whole first semester, which was something that a lot of people didn’t get.”

Furthermore, Rachel Brooks (’22) said closing schools was the right decision and despite the difficulties we may face learning from home, everyone will endure them together.

“Doing school online is definitely necessary, especially with the circumstances in London right now,” she said. “While it’s harder than doing school in-person, I think it’s really important that we’re all doing this.”

Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock win Georgia Senate runoff elections

In the U.S., Senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their Senate races, giving Democrats the majority in the Senate, although narrowly. Their victories make strides toward increasing diversity within the Senate; Ossoff is Jewish and will be the youngest senator elected since President-elect Joe Biden in 1972, and Warnock will be the first Black senator to represent Georgia.

Brooks said she is very pleased with the outcome and that there is always a need for more diversity.

“I was really excited with the results of the Senate race, especially that a Black individual and a Jewish individual both elected,” she said. “I think it’s very important to have more representation in politics.”

I was really excited with the results of the Senate race, especially that a Black individual and a Jewish individual both elected. I think it’s very important to have more representation in politics.

— Rachel Brooks ('22)

Bellinger-Wehner said another great aspect of the outcome is not only did the Senate increase its diversity, but the Democrats did so in what was a traditionally Republican state.

“It’s a huge achievement for the Democratic Party to be able to win something so big, especially as an almost exclusively republican state,” she said.

Mob storms the U.S. Capitol 

Meanwhile, supporters of President Donald Trump formed a violent mob in Washington, D. C., and stormed the Capitol after Trump brought up false claims of voter fraud when he encouraged his supporters to protest at the Capitol building.

Five people, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, died as a result of the event. Sicknick died Jan. 7 after being struck by a fire extinguisher while physically engaging with the rioters.

Brooks said the destruction caused by the mob does not surprise her after the recent events that have occurred in the U.S.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t very surprised when I saw it because I feel like this kind of violence that’s been promoted, at least that we’ve seen in the past few years, it’s just an environment that I kind of came to accept,” she said.

Henrikson said he acknowledges how severed the nation is and that the ongoing polarization of opinions in the U.S. has culminated in an act of violence.

“There are such harsh divisions in our country that were pushed to this point where different sides are alienating each other to the point where they refuse to listen, where they feel like they have to turn to violence,” he said.

Bellinger-Wehner said this event has also sparked a debate about white privilege by comparing the way the police and armed forces dealt with Black Lives Matter protests versus the Capitol storming.

“Over the summer, the Black Lives Matter protests, which were almost exclusively peaceful, were met with bullets, were met with tear gas, were met with riot gear police,” she said. 

However, when a mob storms the Capitol, “they are met with nothing but cooperation” Bellinger-Wehner said.

Social media platforms deactivate Trump’s accounts

Trump has lost access to all of his social media accounts. Twitter and Snapchat have permanently banned Trump from using his accounts, while other platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, have suspended him and are in the process of reviewing his accounts.

If it was anyone else who you saw inciting violence, spreading mass amounts of misinformation, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that they would get you banned or be suppressed.

— Eric Henrikson ('21)

Brooks said she believes the misinformation he gives his followers is an important part of what various social media platforms are now evaluating on his social media accounts.

“Some stuff he said is just wrong and it’s completely promoting messages that shouldn’t be put out there, especially for people who are following him,” she said. “I think it did play a role in promoting the violence that happened, and just spreading false information.”

Henrikson said there have been a variety of reasons for shutting down these accounts. 

“I think there are definitely very valid reasons for doing so,” he said. “If it was anyone else who you saw inciting violence, spreading mass amounts of misinformation, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that they would get you banned or be suppressed.”

Trump tweets response to election certification

Following the riots, Congress officially certified Biden’s victory. Trump tweeted his response through White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino’s Twitter account as Trump’s personal account had been suspended: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless, there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”


Henrikson said he thinks this tweet presents two contrasting opinions that could negatively impact how Biden will move into his presidency.

“It contradicts itself almost.” he said. “There will be a smooth transition, while in the same tweet he’s talking about how he has facts to support that this election was fraudulent. Hiding that in there, you’re automatically going to get millions of people who begin to doubt whether there even should be a transition from one president to the next.”

Bellinger-Wehner said Trump’s words are redundant, as she expects nothing less than a transition that is orderly.

“There is no reason for there to be anything but an orderly transition,” she said. “The point of democracy is that we vote for the president, and whoever wins is our president. They represent the country as a whole.

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About the Contributor
Eden Leavey
Eden Leavey, Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Print
Eden Leavey (’24) is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Print of The Standard. Leavey’s passion for storytelling prompted her to join The Standard in Grade 9. Beyond journalism, she looks to tell stories through creative writing and photography as well as dance and movement. Separate from The Standard, Leavey leads the Sustainability Council and the Feminist Literature Book Club.

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