Liveblog: Free Speech Panel in PAC discusses free speech movement

    A panel moderated by Palo Alto High School junior Noor Navaid at Flex today in the Performing Arts Center features former Paly Student Body President and current Supervisor Joe Simitian, former Campanile journalist and current journalist with Embarcadero Media Chris Kenrick, and Palo Alto City Historian Steve Staiger.

    The panel commemorates the official opening of Paly’s new digital journalism archive, an online compilation of Paly journalism dating back to 1895.

    Stay tuned for live updates from the panel.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:03 pm

    Paly librarian Rachel Kellerman is introducing junior Charlotte Kadifa, who has been a driving force in creating the archive.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:04 pm

    “I want students to know that we have a voice; we can use it,” Paly junior Charlotte Kadifa said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:04 pm

    “We want to inspire students to speak up for themselves and speak up for others,” Kadifa said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:08 pm

    “The 50s was the decade that changed Palo Alto more than any other,” Palo Alto City Historian Steve Staiger said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:11 pm

    “1967 was the Summer of Love in the Bay Area, but by 1967, the peace and love were mostly gone,” Staiger said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:12 pm

    There were many issues with violent protests and in one case, a sit-in at Stanford Hospital lead to the injuries of several police officers.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:14 pm

    “It’s impossible to overstate the influence the war had on our life at Paly,” former Campanile journalist Chris Kenrick said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:15 pm

    “Every Paly boy was required to register for the draft by the age of 18.”

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:16 pm

    There is a list of approximately 45 young men from Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Los Altos who passed away fighting in the Vietnam War.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:17 pm

    The Radical Student Union (RSU) was fighting in a militant style with very little respect in order to gain more power for student voices at Paly.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:19 pm

    “Although The Campanile was a school sanctioned newspaper, we had a lot of freedom in our editorial content,” Kenrick said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:20 pm

    Many unnamed informants, including the principal of Paly at that time, were giving information about students who might be in the RSU and their families to the FBI. This allowed for the FBI to track many Paly students.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:24 pm

    “Students here were complaining about a host of injustices on campus,” Supervisor Joe Simitian said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:25 pm

    “This was a time of tremendous transition,” Simitian said. “We arrived just in time for the Environmental Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Anti-War Movement. We were here just long enough to usher in a new decade altogether.”

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:29 pm

    In the 1960’s Paly had both a Student Court and a Board of Wellness. The BOW ticketed students who got in trouble, and all ticketed students then had to stand in front of the Student Court. “I decided I wanted to be a student lawyer,” Simitian said. “I had to take the student bar exam, which I passed.”

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:31 pm

    “How much were we pretending we had real power? Quite a bit. I thought that was disingenuous. I supported the effort to abolish Student Body Government,” Simitian said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:35 pm

    The panel will now transition into audience questions.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:37 pm

    “Don’t underestimate or give away your power. You have more power than you think you do. Your voice gives you power if you choose to use it and if you become practiced and effective in the way you use it,” Simitian said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:46 pm

    “The archive is a source of material that documents the past, sometimes not in the way the historians want it preserved. It can be a newspaper clipping, it can be a city posting, it can be a flyer advertising a certain event,” Staiger said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:47 pm

    “The Palo Alto High School Chris and I went to was not as racially diverse as Palo Alto High School today but it was much more economically diverse,” Simitian said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:49 pm

    “The critical, absolute essential nature of press is of a free and independent press nationally, locally, at the school level, at any country or city that aspires to any level of fairness or freedom,” Kenrick said.

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:50 pm

    “While the form is changing and the business models are changing, it has never been more important that you [journalists] do what you do, especially at the student level,” Simitian said. “Be fearless but be fair.”

    Maya Akkaraju November 28, 20172:50 pm

    The panel has now concluded.

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