The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Don’t forget the first

One way CESJDS encourages student voices is through student government. But recently, the JDS administration has failed to uphold this assurance by making candidates cut parts of their speeches that fairly criticized or discussed topics such as the new grading policy and the senior prank.

On Sept. 20, the class of 2025 had elections for their grade government. Prior to the election, candidates were required to submit their speeches to the administration for review. This was the first time in our duration at JDS that this rule has been implemented, and the administration cut large portions of candidates’ speeches. Many students felt these cuts were unfair and that their speeches did not warrant the harsh edits that were made.

As editors on the Lion’s Tale and candidates in the election, these cuts were shocking. In our Journalism 1 class, we learned about the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, as well as JDS’ strong support of the freedom of the press under its Press Rights Protocol. But shouldn’t JDS’ support of the First Amendment apply to freedom of speech as well?

Junior Ari Kittrie, who was running for Vice President, centered his speech around concerns over the new school policies this year.

“As you know, there have been many new changes in school policies. These changes have unfortunately caused some angst,” Kittrie’s original speech said. “But, like I did last year as Vice President, I will work with the administration to represent the student perspective.”

The administration asked him to take out this part of his speech because the topic was too “negative.” This type of censure is disappointing for a school that does so much to promote student voices through its journalism program.

Considering how often the new grading policies are discussed between students, it’s unfair for the administration to stop candidates from discussing them altogether. It undermines the entire point of grade elected officials, whose role is to be representatives of the students.

It might have been fine if the administration had sat down with candidates to make these changes, but because they made mandatory suggestions and comments on google documents, candidates had no option as to whether they should accept the edits or decline them. The speeches ceased to be the candidates’ as the administration edited the speeches for themselves.

For juniors Stella Muzin and Adam Bachrach, also candidates for Vice President, any discussion of the senior prank in their speech was removed, even though the senior prank was a central point in their speech. Cutting out these aspects of both candidates’ speech was unfair and prohibited candidates from sharing their ideas for the grade.

As students who believe strongly in our First Amendment rights, we find it inappropriate for our school to censor our ideas and vision for our grade. It would be one thing if we were using inappropriate language or insulting other students, language which would not be protected by the First Amendment, but there is no reason that the school should stop us from expressing our ideas.

Although Muzin, Bachrach and Kittrie ran against each other in the Vice Presidential election, we both noticed this unfair censorship and believed it was more important to prevent this in future elections than to win.

Junior Yedidya Milner-Gillers, who was running for president, disagrees with the school’s cutting of their speeches.

“I found it interesting that the school didn’t have the students’ platform on their own terms but rather a platform on the school’s terms,” Milner-Gillers said. “There wasn’t much room for individuality.”

JDS, a proclaimed pluralistic community, encourages students to be aware of their differing opinions, but the handling of grade government elections this year reflected the opposite.

Students shouldn’t be voting for their grade delegates based on the censored versions of candidates opinions, but rather on the candidates’ actual opinions.

We understand that the administration has the right to censor offensive language and hate speech from any candidate’s speech. However, we believe that the fair criticisms and topics brought up by some of the candidates were unnecessarily struck down. This is especially important when the purpose of the grade government is to create change in our school environment.

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About the Contributors
Stella Muzin, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Stella is ecstatic to continue her work on the Lion’s Tale as Arts and Entertainment Editor. She is excited to work to enhance the Lion’s Tale’s A&E sections with interesting articles and spreads. Outside of the newspaper, Stella is a member of the Debate Team, Political Discussion Club, and the Swim Team. Stella is thrilled to take on this leadership role and work with her fellow editors. 
Ari Kittrie, Opinion Editor
As Opinion Editor, Ari is more than excited to put his best foot forward when writing, editing and designing spreads. Other than the Lion’s Tale, Ari is on the Wrestling Team, and is very active in politics including having worked as an Election Judge this past November. Additionally, he has worked for many political candidates from all different political parties.   

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