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Interim High School Principal affirms student free expression rights

Sophia Bassi
Interim High School Principal Jack Phillips approves the affirmation of student free expression rights Sept. 8. The affirmation was developed by the Private School Journalism Association and the Student Press Law Center to ensure that students in school-sponsored media have free expression rights.

Interim High School Principal Jack Phillips signed an affirmation of student free expression rights Sept. 8. The affirmation, which was developed by the Private School Journalism Association and the Student Press Law Center, grants freedom of expression rights to students and teachers in private and independent schools working in school-sponsored media. It states that students are responsible for determining the content produced and that both the students and adviser will not be disciplined for exercising freedom of expression.

Phillips said he signed the affirmation due to its agreement with the community’s principles, as well as the publication’s history of ethical reporting.

“It aligns with the school’s values, it aligns with my personal values as a school leader,” Phillips said. “I also know that The Standard itself has a track record of journalistic integrity that made it easy to enter that kind of agreement.”

Editor-in-Chief Clara Martinez (’24) said it is “really important that [the affirmation] exists for all student journalists” since it ensures their right to report freely even if there are any changes in school leadership.

Meanwhile, The Standard’s adviser Louisa Avery said she was excited about the signing of the affirmation since it ensures that staff members will not be negatively impacted by their reporting.

“It’s just protection and reassurance for the students and the adviser that there won’t be any retaliation for them doing good journalism,” Avery said. “As long as what they’re reporting is factual and is done in an ethical and mature way, there won’t be repercussions for that.”

The affirmation will prevent students and the adviser from being disciplined if they exercise their freedom of expression rights. It was signed by Interim High School Principal Jack Phillips Sept. 8.
(Sophia Bassi)

Furthermore, Avery said she has noticed an increase in self -censorship among staff members recently. She said she hopes the affirmation will encourage them to responsibly “approach difficult topics or to write about things that are controversial.”

Martinez said, with this new affirmation in place, she plans to motivate staff members to further investigate potentially contentious topics in their reporting.

“I’ll just continue to encourage all of our writers and editors to go beyond what they think is safe and to ask the hard questions and get to the points that are maybe swept under the rug or the administration doesn’t want us to talk about,” Martinez said.

Phillips said, in addition to making staff members and interviewees more comfortable regarding The Standard’s reporting, he hopes that his signing of the affirmation will encourage other schools to support free expression rights.

“What I hope is actually the broader impact in terms of what it says about ASL and then maybe even for other schools and other student publications around the world,” Phillips said. “Hopefully, there’s some momentum around this and we as school leaders continue to support this.”

Likewise, Avery said she hopes the signing of the affirmation will demonstrate the importance of student journalism to other schools across the world.

“As far as I know, we are the first school to sign it at all in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, which is exciting because we want to be a leader in the industry and to show other schools that there’s nothing to fear about student journalism,” Avery said. “Student journalism is powerful, and it’s there to increase the value of a school community and not anything to be feared.”

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About the Contributors
Sophia Bassi
Sophia Bassi, Lead News Editor
Sophia Bassi (’24) is the Lead News Editor for The Standard. She began exploring journalism in Grade 6 on the Middle School newspaper, The Scroll, and sees journalism as a powerful way to inform the community. Outside of The Standard, Bassi is on the Sustainability Council and plays competitive tennis.
Oskar Doepke
Oskar Doepke, News Editor: Print
Oskar Doepke (’25) is the News Editor: Print for The Standard. Before moving to London, he joined his old school’s newspaper due to a love for writing and passion for politics, which he continued upon joining the Standard in Grade 10. Outside of the newsroom, Doepke leads the mock trial club, plays cello and enjoys social studies. 

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