​High School Newspaper Dispute Over Use of "Redskins" Ends in Suspension

For the past year, a high school in Pennsylvania has been caught up in a battle between the school’s student newspaper and the administration over the use of the word “Redskins,” which happens to be the school mascot. The situation has escalated over the months, and now the school has suspended the student editor from the newspaper and has as well as a faculty advisor.

Last October, the student editors of Neshaminy High School’s newspaper The Playwickian announced that they would refuse to print the term (again, the name of their team mascot), saying “The ‘R-Word’ is at least awkward, at most a racist slur.” They offered to compromise by running the term as “R———.” Pretty generous, to be honest.

In response their principal Rob McGee (so actually Bobby McGee), argued that the term wasn’t being used in a racist way (sigh) and that banning the word in print violated the rights of other students and their freedom of speech. He proceeded to level various threats and attacks against the newspaper, such as taking down their statement (as well as a rebuttal editorial) from the Playwickian website and blocking their access to social media, confiscating copies of the newspaper, and issuing $1200 fine from the newspaper’s budget.

Given those extreme measures (IN A HIGH SCHOOL SETTING), I guess it makes sense that the next logical step in this completely batshit insane campaign against students standing up against racism is suspension. So freedom-loving Bobby McGee (with nothing left to lose), suspended Gillian McGoldrick, the student Editor-in-Chief from the paper for the month of September. He also suspended the paper’s faculty adviser, Tara Huber (who by the way, won Pennsylvania’s School Press association’s Teacher of the Year award) for two days without pay because she supported the newspaper.

It’s almost as if Principal McGee is completely unaware of the debate over the Washington DC’s NFL team name. Like he has no idea that more and more people, news outlets, online marketplaces, TV commentators, and the US Patent Office have been dropping their use of the term “Redskins” as well as the team logo. The fact that McGee finds punishing a teenager for refusing to use a racist slur more fulfilling than educating himself and his students and perhaps opening a dialogue on the matter is absolutely pathetic.

But not all is lost, folks. A campaign has been started (by another student newspaper based in California) to raise money for the Playwickian and for Tara Huber. The goal was $2,400 and has raised nearly $3,000 so far.

Image via AP.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin