The Tomatalk

I testified in the state capital. Here’s why.

Madison Morgan standing on the steps on the Washington State capitol building.

Madison Morgan standing on the steps on the Washington State capitol building.

Michele Morgan

Michele Morgan

Madison Morgan standing on the steps on the Washington State capitol building.

Madison Morgan, Editor-in-chief

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    “Why are are we censoring students who want to write about change and give the voiceless a voice,” I asked. “Why are we undermining their efforts to make the world a better place?”

    I exhaled the breath I had been holding, and looked up from the speech I prepared.

    A week earlier, I received the email asking me to do this: to speak in front of state House of Representative judiciary committee on the importance of student press rights and why they needed to approve Senate legislation trying to give students those rights.

    And now here I was. Doing exactly that.

    This year, members of the house were trying to pass SB 5064, a Senate bill that would give student media throughout the state their full first amendment rights and protect them from censorship by school administrations.

    Two years ago, a similar Senate bill was drafted and presented, but it never even made it out of the Senate.   

    At that time, I was just a fledgling reporter. But like other student journalists across the state, I followed SB 6233 closely and was disappointed when the Senate voted it down.

Michele Morgan
Jacoy Willis, sophomore at University of Washington; Kamiakin senior Madison Morgan; and journalism adviser for Mountlake Terrace High School Vince DeMiero.

    But now it was my chance. Having been in the Kamiakin journalism program for three years, I had learned just how important student press rights were.

    “Now, more than ever, student journalists need their full first amendment rights,” I said.  

    I had seen students with a love of journalism become discouraged when they were told they couldn’t write about the things they truly cared about.

    I had seen student journalists choose to not publish stories because they feared the consequences their stories would have.

    I had seen the hostility directed at Kamiakin journalism students from school administration.

    But I also saw the importance of breaking past that. The articles people fear the most to publish can also be the stories that can help to change things for the better.

    And that’s exactly what I said.

    I asked the House of Representative members how they could justify censored student media, when years from now those same students would be the next generation of professional journalists.

    I asked them how they could censor their good intentions, and their desires to change the world for the better.

UPDATE: The Senate president signed the bill into law March 7, and the Speaker of the House signed the bill into law March 8. SB 5064 is now waiting to be signed into action by Gov. Jay Inslee.

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I testified in the state capital. Here’s why.