• Category Archives Opinion
  • Indecency or injustice?

    This school year it is clear that dress code is a huge problem around Pueblo West High School. Girls all around the school are overly sexualized for showing excessive amounts of skin in inappropriate areas, also known as shoulders. You have been given information in the handbook; you have heard about it in the announcements;  you may have experienced it first hand. Even with the hot weather and poor air-conditioning, the dress code will be enforced and many students have a problem with it. Over the years, specific dress code regulations have caused numerous disputes between students and faculty. Targeting mainly female students, our school’s dress code can be deemed as oppressing.

    Starting as early as elementary school, schoolgirls are told that their bodies are a distraction to boys and their educations. Instead of boy students being taught to respect their peers female students will be pulled from class to get new clothes, to contact their parents, or even to go home due to how they dress. Not only is this taking away from their education, but also it tells the students that their bodies are inappropriate and need to be covered. We are taught that our self-respect is determined by how we choose to clothe ourselves. Our bodies are seen as a distraction. Our bodies are regulated.

    Male students hardly ever get in trouble for breaking dress code regulations. It is rare to see boys get dress-coded unless it is over something simple like wearing a hat in the building. Faculty members and students fight the thought that the dress code is aimed mostly at girls by saying that the dress code applies to boys too. In everyday life you would more than likely never see a boy wearing shorts shorter than their fingertips, crop tops, or shirts that expose a lot of skin. If you walk into female clothing stores you will find clothing matching that description in mass – it is part of our generation.

    It is easy to see the faculty’s reasoning for enforcing the dress code; sometimes students look indecent or unprofessional at school. The problem is not that our school wants us to look modest and professional, the problem is our school is regulating our bodies, telling us they are inappropriate, limiting our self-expression and enforcing a dress code mainly directed at females.

    Female bodies should not be labeled as a distraction. Shoulders and legs are not body parts that should be sexualized or deemed inappropriate for viewing. Boy students should have the self-discipline to not let clothing of a peer affect their learning. When asked about his views on our school dress code, Mr. Martinez, a teacher in the building stated, “The dress code is too lenient. Actually, I think we should have school uniforms because it limits arguments and in the workforce you will all likely wear uniforms.” However, uniforms would be more oppressing than the current dress code, in my opinion.

    In the future years coming to Pueblo West High School and schools all over the country, dress code will continue to be a problem. The dress code is constantly fluctuating through administrative regulations. Student and faculty views will probably remain the same: teachers are for it, students (usually female) hate it. “It’s an annoying rule,” says a student Ethan Mascarenas, “I don’t see it ever not being a problem in any schools.”

  • Confederate flag: a battle of rationality and political correctness

    The flags on Cody Stalcar's and Tanner Crapeau's
    The flags on Cody Stalcar’s and Tanner Crapeau’s trucks. Photo by: Jonathon Marchand


    To fly the flag or not to fly the flag, that is the question the school administration has been tossing around in their heads regarding senior Cody Stalcar and junior Tanner Crapeau flying the Confederate flag in their trucks. This is a very pivotal moment for the future of how speech is regulated within our school. I do not believe that if somebody is offended by what you say, that it makes it right to ban what you say. This is hardly a representative of the real world. The goal of high school is to provide a good transition from childhood into adulthood. To have issues such as this in which you are exercising your right to free speech is counter-intuitive to the end goal of schooling.

    I personally dislike the Confederate flag and consider it a symbol of racism because the Civil War was fought, in part, over the state right to own slaves. However, this does not mean people who fly the Confederate flag are racist by default. Some fly the Confederate flag because it is not a racist symbol to them but rather a representation of their personal identity. Where does this leave the flag within our schools?

    The Confederate flag is inappropriate for government institutions to fly the flag based on what it was used to represent just as it would be inappropriate to fly the flag of the Ku Klux Klan because of the history of that flag. For those who wish to fly the Confederate flag, this would be protected within the parameters of the First Amendment which specifically protects controversial speech such as this. What worries me about this situation is if the administration does conclude that they can forcefully remove the flag from the students’ trucks. Then when will the suppression of speech stop? Will you no longer be able to voice valid opinions because of their capacity to offend someone? This may not be the case, but it does leave a strong precedent for events of that nature to occur.

    If the school wants us to become independent adults then the school must recognize certain situations in which the students are entitled to their right of how they represent themselves.

  • Confederate flag controversy

    Ever since the tragic shooting that that took place at a South Carolina church, the Confederate flag has resurfaced in the public eye. Recently, two students at Pueblo West High School, Cody Stalcar and Tanner Crapeau, have found themselves in the center of this controversy for displaying the confederate flag on their vehicles. Some see it as a symbol of heritage and pride, a representation of ancestry and lifestyle. Others…as one of hate, oppression and racism. It is a symbol that is offensive to not only members of the nation, but to members of our community.

    I have no doubt that both opinions are valid, but the latter is the one that holds greater weight. The fact that the flag offends citizens is the very reason it should go. I’m sure our students don’t mean to offend people, but knowing that they are offending people in the community should be enough incentive to remove the flag. When incentive doesn’t do the job, it is essential that matters be taken into the hands of the authorities to have the flag removed. If you really want to show pride in your country try using the American flag.
    Sometimes we fail to see a different perspective. It is easier to understand the pride that it invokes rather than the negative emotion it causes for others. Mrs. Vail, a librarian at Pueblo West High School, cites Obama’s statement that the Confederate flag belongs in a museum, and is to be displayed for historical purposes only. She believes in the first amendment stating that those who display the flag absolutely have the right to do so. That being said, she also claimed that once Cody and Tanner realize that it brought offense to members of the community, that  it should be taken down out of respect, if not for respect then kindness. She fears that those who display the flag for southern pride don’t realize the history that it carries with it.
    The flag is to be viewed as what it is, a representation of a racial hatred in the South and not as the novelty it has recently become. The removal of the confederate flag is but another step toward a better, stronger, and more unified America that we have been working toward for the last 150 years.

  • Political ignorance could endanger political discussion

    Political ideology is often a hotbed for passionate arguments among up and coming students. Whether your beliefs lie along the lines of the left or right or somewhere in between there is a good chance you have been involved in ongoing political dialogue with your peers. But how can you be sure you are getting the most of of your conversations? Is your peer benefitting as much?

    In recent years there has been an idealogical push to spread tolerance and diversity among American life and encourage open conversation about politics in the classroom.  Unfortunately, it appears that in a classroom, a place synonymous with learning and knowledge, political naiveté is at dangerously high levels, and it could be polluting the quality of discussion. As part of a Challenge Based Learning Project, a global initiative to encourage students to take steps to improve their community, Conor Morrell, Maddison Taylor, and myself (Aaron Goettel) are exploring the depth of political knowledge within the school through anonymous surveys with the hopes of raising political awareness and expanding discussion in the classroom.

    For the survey we asked 80 people five commonly known questions about the government:

    1. Who is the Governor of Colorado?

    2. Name one of the two senators elected in Colorado.

    3. Name one of the eight Colorado Electoral Representatives.

    4. What is the FED?

    5. How many justices are on the Supreme Court of the United States?

    The results were disturbingly clear. Only one person out of the 80 knew that the FED was the Federal Revenue and the most common correctly answered question was “Who is the Governor of Colorado?” and only 60% were able to answer that question correctly. How is it that in a IB World School, where critical thinking is actively encouraged, five simple questions about our government can go so unanswered?

    The reasons for why our student body drew a mental blank may never be truly answered and the full extent of our school’s political knowledge cannot be expressed in such a limited survey. The survey provides only a small snapshot but it is enough to raise some interesting questions. Students should never be afraid to seek out a second opinion and should always fact check themselves and others when discussing politics. The next time a debate or discussion comes up, stand strong in your beliefs but be ready to concede a point if the facts do not line up. It is the only way to keep the discussion clear and intellectual.

  • Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times

    Many people may be uncomfortable with the idea of applying ideals of Buddhism to their everyday life, but it is important to understand that I am not speaking for the religion but rather the philosophy behind the religion. For example, think of the golden rule from the Christian Bible, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You do not have to be a Christian to see the wisdom in these words. That is the point of this article, to expose readers to an unfamiliar philosophy, in this case the Four Noble Truths, that can be useful in everyday life. The Four Noble Truths where created by Siddhartha Gautama to help people handle challenges that we all face. The first is the Noble Truth of Suffering, the Second is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering, the third is The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, and the Fourth is the Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering or the Eightfold Path.

    The Noble Truth of Suffering is one that is always relevant. Every single human being that has ever lived and that will ever live has experienced suffering. Whether you are the Queen  of England or a fugitive in a third world country, suffering is unavoidable. Furthermore, it is important not to trivialize suffering. To think that you cannot be sad because there are people in a worse position than you is similar to thinking that you can not be happy because there are people in a better position than you. Whether it comes from getting a car accident, a bad relationship, or even just feeling misunderstood, suffering is fated in all of our lives. Once this is understood it becomes easier to accept. It becomes clear that asking “Why?” is often pointless because oftentimes there is no answer to that question. Sometimes bad things just happened without cause and understanding, and this knowledge makes it easier to accept.

    The Second Noble Truth is that the origin of suffering is attachment to desire. There are three types of desire: desire for pleasure, desire to become, and desire to be rid of. The more you desire the greater your suffering will be. Whether it is wanting to do something to have fun, which is the desire for pleasure, wanting to be taller or better looking, which is the desire to become, or just really not wanting to go to school, which is the desire to be rid of. In our society the desire for pleasure causes a lot of suffering. We are constantly searching for stimulation in the way we move  from computer screens to television screens to phone screens. This constant search for stimulation always keeps us in a state of limbo between happiness and sadness. This in-between state fills us with apathy and causes several different aspects of life to lose their meaning. As well as the desire for pleasure, the desire to become is especially prevalent in our society. We experience a constant stream of media telling us how to dress, how we should act, what makes you attractive. This is not to say that you should abandon self-improvement. Self-improvement is important, but so is self-acceptance. The third type of desire, the desire to be rid of, also causes suffering for our generation. Sitting around in school all day wishing you were not there only makes you miserable. This is not to say that the school system is fair, or even reasonable, but rather it is not really something that you can avoid. In that case, as in several others, it is better to accept what you cannot change.

    The Third Noble Truth is Cessation of Suffering. The first part of The Third Noble Truth is contemplating the meaning behind everything. Why is it like this? Why is it this way? For example, why does someone dress the way they do why do they behave the way they do? The goal here is not to pass judgment but only to search for meaning. This step is necessary because to better understand others is to better understand yourself. Once you understand what makes others suffer or what brings peace to others, it is easier to see how you will be affected. After this part of The Third Noble Truth, then a good deal of introspection is needed. To put it simply, when you are unhappy observe why you are unhappy, and when you are happy observe why you are happy. The value of learning to recognize activities that you enjoy or that calm you down and ones that you dislike or that stress you out is obvious. However, one thing that is often lost is the ability to differentiate between healthy relationships and toxic ones. Not only should you reduce the amount of stressors in in your life, but also the amount of people that cause you to have stress. Oftentimes we unknowingly cling to relationships that leave us emotionally drained while falsely believing that they are good for us. That is the whole aim of Buddhist teachings; to develop a reflective mind in order to let go of illusions.

    The Fourth Noble Truth is also called the Eightfold Path or the Path to End Suffering. The eight parts to it are generally translated as

    • Right Understanding
    • Right Thought
    • Right Speech
    • Right Action
    • Right Livelihood
    • Right Effort
    • Right Mindfulness
    • Right Concentration

    Now the translation generally uses the word “right”, but that is not necessary accurate, the original word, “Samma” does not mean right as in right and wrong. It has a meaning closer to whole or complete; it can even be compared to the English word summit. In this sense the opposite of right understanding would not be wrong understanding.

    Right Understanding comes from insight gained from the first three Noble Truths. Right Understanding is often described as understanding that, “All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.” To put it simply, everything, from things that fill us with joy to some of the greatest sources of suffering, all can come to an end. Surroundings that you have become familiar with can be gone overnight, and it can be disorienting. It can feel similar to having a rug pulled out from under you, change can also bring opportunity, if you are willing to accept it. The next step in the Eightfold Path is Right Thought. When speaking of Right Thought, first you must contemplate this; many people believe that if they had a beautiful house, a secure and luxurious job, and a good marriage then they would be happy. This is not true, there are many people with all of that, and they are still unhappy. In addition, this kind of thinking leads to the belief that you are not whole without all of these things that our society demands which is also a false believe. When we accept that our lives on this earth are not meant to make us content, then it is easier to let go of that demand and therefore easier to let go of desire.

    After Right Thought comes Right Speech. Learning Right Speech is a challenging task because most of us do not realize how many different ways speech can hurt us. Exaggeration hurts your credibility, talking without reason makes you seem a fool, words spoken in anger leave behind guilt, and lying can have all three of these effects. Right Speech probably takes the most effort to develop.

    Next in the Eightfold Path is Right Action. Right Action is simple; it is the impulse to help. If you see someone fall and your first thought is to help that person, and you do, then that is an example of Right Action. It would not be right action if you helped someone to impress people around you, or to help hoping for a reward. Right Action is done out of compassion for a fellow human being and because it is the right thing to do. Alongside Right Action is Right Livelihood. The essence of living the Right Livelihood is to live a life that does not exploit or harm anyone in any way. It sounds easy enough, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain in modern life. Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration all tie in together. Right Effort is consciously trying to follow the Eightfold Path. Right Mindfulness is being aware of what you should and should not do. And Right Concentration is having the goal of becoming enlightened, or in our modern setting, becoming a better person.

    Now this may be a lot to take in all at once, but The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are filled to the brim with wisdom and even just applying a small part of them to our modern lives can make a huge difference. At the very least, allow some of these ideas to sink in and maybe even affect your perspective on the world.