The Protests

September 15, 2017


Zoe Cheung

Students gathered in the Commons after second period for a protest

“Unfortunate.” That’s the word Principal Andy Beaton chose to describe the protests that took place on September 14. As school started at 8:30 AM, students trickled in, many dressed in their most revealing clothing (short shorts, crop tops, and shoulder-baring shirts), but others wearing red or pink to show their solidarity. Things went relatively smoothly until second hour ended, when advisory was scheduled to take place. Instead of heading to advisory, hundreds of students gathered in the Commons for what was meant to be a group photo.

The gathering was meant to be an opportunity to take a picture of students wearing their #EHShoeitup gear. “The protest to me was to raise a question of how do we look at the problem with the current enforcement of the dress code. In the cases I have heard of, the only students in question have been girls,” said senior Joe Hellickson, who participated by dressing up in overalls with nothing underneath. “I’m glad the students were all united in our cause, which was, of course, the belief that the administration was enforcing the dress code unfairly and arbitrarily,” said senior Annie Kratz, who went to the gathering in the Commons. However, the gathering “quickly spiraled into something it wasn’t intended to be,” said Assistant Principal Michael Pretasky. Students began standing on tables and chanting, and administration feared that the protest was becoming an unsafe situation for students.

As this gathering was taking place, Beaton was in a meeting he’d called with members of a student leadership organization called 212. Beaton clarified with the student leaders that nothing in the dress code had been changed, but by this point, it was already too late. Since he was already meeting with these student leaders, he was unable to deal with the protest happening at the same time, something he wishes he’d had the opportunity to do.

As the situation in the Commons escalated, the meaning of the gathering was lost. “I definitely feel like things got out of hand very quickly at the protest as the mob mentality took over,” said Kratz. While many students genuinely cared deeply about the issue, some others were agitators, simply along for the ride. “I don’t think [the protest] was very effective because it became more about being a rebel rather than doing something for a cause,” said Hellickson.

The protests escalated to such a level that the Star Tribune showed up to cover the incident. Soon afterward, Beaton sent out an email to the entire student body announcing an open student forum after school to help dispel rumors in the wake of the protests.

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