A statement from The Omega

The censorship must stop.


Katherine Gross and Matt Troher

A recent poll sent to the student body and conducted by Omega staff members Matt Troher and Katherine Gross found that 183 of 465 respondents believe that school newspapers should always be reviewed prior to publication by the school’s administration. The Omega staff would like the student body to know that good and uninfringed journalism is necessary to foster a free society and democracy, even if the journalism is at a school-wide level. The restrictions on the rights of journalists compromises our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press and are not something to be taken lightly.

Censorship, although not widely experienced by the student body, directly influences them. Whenever you read news, there’s somebody behind the story publishing it. In the case of The Omega, we are being restricted in our abilities to speak with the student body because of policies implemented by the administration.

The Omega is sad to report that our rights are being restricted. In 2016, Abbe Murphy, who was The Omega Editor-in-Chief at the time, sent out a school-wide poll on a school-issued email account. This poll asked for student’s opinions about a new gender-neutral bathroom that was to be installed in the school. Sending out polls was something our publication routinely did in the past to gather data, with no push back from the administration. This was the case, however, until a student forwarded a copy of the poll to a right-wing blog.

This blog wrote a lengthy and hateful post about our school’s decision to install a gender-neutral restroom, and administration took notice. Administration revised Board Policy 7.15, regarding Student and Family Privacy rights, and now restricts our ability to send school-wide emails without permission from students’ parents.

To all those who value democracy and the spread of truthful information, this is devastating. We cannot accurately gauge what you, the students, think about a particular issue without giving you the proper means to voice your opinion through these polls. This Board Policy directly infringes on our rights as student journalists and contradicts current laws in place, such as the Illinois New Voices Act, which establish our rights to send polls.

Following the change to the board policy, The Omega contacted the Student Press Law Center, or the SPLC. The SPLC then issued an official condemnation of Board Policy 7.15 because it violates our right to send polls, but DGN did not change the policy. In 2017, Omega Editors-in-Chief Sidney Lee and Natalie White met with Superintendent Hank Thiele about the restriction of their rights, to which he responded that the school refuses to change the policy.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” The Omega now considers it a requirement to commit civil disobedience and send polls to the student body.

We sent these polls because it is our duty as journalists to find and report upon the truth. We asked you what you thought about journalism and press rights, and we published your thoughts below. Because this newspaper is yours as much as it is ours.

Journalists, no matter their age, no matter who they write for, no matter what they write about, are important. We act as the deliverers of truth and as the watchdogs of the powerful. What we print, or choose not to print, or are not able to print, is reflective of our school.

If The Omega is not granted the jurisdiction and the ability to write about school topics like the the Master Plan renovations or of transgender bathrooms or of anti-abortion protests, and poll students about what they think about these issues without the permission of their parents, it will be hard to find someone who will. We are your voice.

And we want our voice back.


Look below to read more about The Omega and our quest for Free Speech

STAFF EDITORIAL First Amendment for students: Where to draw the line?

Staff Editorial: Policy limits students’ freedom of speech

Staff Editorial: support needed for students’ rights