School Survival

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Discipline and punishment

This page will help keep protesters from getting punished for protesting.

Schools need rules to control students. They single out and punish students who break those rules, to discourage others from doing the same. This can be exploited - they can't single out more than a few students at a time. Imagine half the school getting suspended on the same day (or even in the same week) - it's just not possible.

The more students who work together in a protest, the less possible it is to punish them. As soon as you have a large number of students doing something, you can see how little power the school administration really has over students. When they can't punish students, they're pretty powerless. Every time a protest happens, the administration feels threatened, and it becomes clearer that students actually have power OVER the administration, but only if they work together.

As soon as the administration knows a protest is being planned, they can easily try to threaten students by telling them protesters will be suspended or punished in another way, but they know that will be impossible. They just hope to discourage students from taking part. The best way around this is to make sure students know how all of this works, then no threat can scare them off.

The school administration can however punish the organizers of a protest, in the hopes of discouraging students from organizing such things in future. But they can only punish them if they know who they are. If they don't know who is passing around leaflets and sticking up posters, they can't do anything to them. Another way around it is to simply not have one person known as "organizer" - let a big bunch of students be the organizers, that way it'll be harder to track down and punish them, and also will make the whole protest more democratic. Another idea is to have someone help in your protest that is out of school, and just pretend that he/she is the organizer. If the organizer does get in trouble, and the administration threatens to expel them, call a lawyer or contact some other community/student group. If the school administration knows it'll be a lot of hassle and trouble to go through with the expulsion, they might change their minds.

Here's a quote from one of the articles in the Tales of Protest section, showing how well people can work together to avoid punishment:
'One officer shouted "Who is responsible for this?", I raised my hand and shouted back from the middle if the 30- 40 person crowd, "I am". Lucky me I had picked some really good protesters. The rest one by one raised their hand and shouted the same thing.'

If all else fails, make a noise! Start petitions, have more protests, make sure everybody knows how student's rights to free speech are getting trampled.

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