Freedom of Speech Must be Upheld

Senior speeches translate to larger importance


Oscar Walsh

Sophia Vezmar ‘22 spoke on gullibility for her speech. She highlighted the unseen benefits of being gullible and warned against thinking of gullible people negatively.

With more and more speeches that have been deemed as controversial by a majority of the student body appearing in the senior speeches, there is no doubt there has been conversations about significantly censoring or even giving speakers administration-selected speeches. The thought of this has sparked widespread concern from both seniors and younger grade levels. 

         Not only would regulated senior speeches defeat the purpose of the speeches, to give graduating student’s an opportunity to voice their parting thoughts to the whole student body, it would also directly conflict with the school’s mission. The Blake School prides itself in academic courage. This means, in the school’s own words, to have one’s words and ideas challenged and have the ability to challenge others. By trying to censor student’s voices, peers will leave the school lacking in academic courage. English teacher Anil Chandiramani states that, “It seems like one of the central features of the senior speech is precisely to allow seniors to explore a topic that is of importance to them and hold the floor and speak on that specific topic”.

         Outside of these walls, the so-called real world does not provide a space for people to hide from thoughts they may personally disagree with. This is most likely one of the reasons Blake decided to prioritize academic courage and insert it into its mission statement. The hundreds of successful politicians, businesspersons, and other professionals who have graduated from this school apply the skills of listening to and engaging with contradictory viewpoints daily. 

         Defending this right for seniors to voice their unique opinions on a myriad of issues is also rooted in the fundamental ideas of what it means to be an American. The colonists were silenced by the hand of King George reaching across the sea and since then America has been a long standing beacon for the oppressed and silenced from around the globe who want to be free. While a senior speech is not as monumental as those examples, teaching the next generation of Americans that they can’t voice their reasonable opinions would be an insult to the lives that countless Americans from all backgrounds gave up in honor of defending that sacred right.