Excused Absences for the Climate Strike

Mika Cavanagh, Writer

With the Climate strike soon approaching, many students at Whitney Young are prepared to walk out to support the Green New Deal and #CEJA, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. To ensure that climate change and global warming are given its proper due by the government, the Climate Strike was organized to give the youth a voice in how the planet is cared for in the future. A lot of students are conflicted about attending the strike on a school day though. 

Recently the administration of Whitney Young has put an 8 day limit on absences for school activities such as prom and senior luncheon, so many students are worried that using one of their absences for the Climate Strike will affect their ability to attend these end of year activities, especially seniors. So the question has been brought up, “should the climate strike be an excused absence?” 

I interviewed three students and asked them this question. James Rockey ‘20 said, “I do think the climate strike should be an excused absence because our earth is dying and we have to spread awareness for the conservation of the planet, not just for us, but for future generations.” I also asked Neil Rockey ‘22, and he responded by saying, “It’s important to incentivize people to participate in politics, so excusing absences would be a step in the right direction.” Finally, I asked Claire Macellaio ‘21, and she said, “It’s important that everyone goes to the Climate Strike in order to bring awareness to the state of our planet and legislation being passed. Excusing students for going to the strike not only helps the cause but helps students be vocal in their beliefs.”

These responses do bring up the point, “should all future protests and walk-outs be excused by the administration?” Students have a right to express their opinions by free speech, and it’s important that the youth are allowed to free speech, express their opinions and stand up for what they believe in. The administration has a lot to consider, and as a high school, Whitney Young has a responsibility to allow students to express themselves.