Where is the Political Activism at Sage Creek?

Beau Prince

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After the presidential election in November, American high schools were enveloped in chaos. Students refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance, roamed the halls all day with their mouths taped shut, walked out of class en masse, and led demonstrations in the streets of their cities. The American school system was on the brink of riot. But not really.

Aside from the occasional bursting smile or subdued grumble, the morning after was not particularly memorable here at Sage Creek. Unlike the seemingly widespread protests that many schools across America, including our North County neighbors at San Dieguito Academy, were overcome with, Sage Creek remained relatively peaceful. There were no marches or walkouts; there was little more than impassioned discussion.

It should first be mentioned, though, that the placidity of our campus is a far cry from the turmoil of social media. In the month that has followed the election, students have been at each other’s throats in an ongoing keyboard-based war that has only intensified in recent weeks.

On campus, meanwhile, a social question remains: where’s the protesting, the activism, the yelling? This is Southern California, right? Shouldn’t we be seeing something? As a matter of fact, we are–only it comes in a package that is not what one would predict, given the fact that Sage Creek is an establishment of young people in a blue county of a blue state.

The Aspiring Future Leaders of America Club, or AFLAC, has been the most well-organized and visible political group on campus. As The Sage staff reporter Jeremy Hargrove reported shortly before the election, the club was unable to officially form due to lack of a staff adviser. Official club status aside, the group was an impressively large organization. Zach Munitz, a senior, is a member of AFLAC.

According to Munitz, the club “had about 105 [students] on the email [list],” or roughly one twelfth of the entire student population.

While certain types of political activism are strangely absent, AFLAC has been more than able to mobilize a group of students. Munitz attributes this largely to the sociopolitical climate of Carlsbad and Sage Creek.

“Our community in general is a little bit more conservative in a sense,” Munitz said, “There isn’t anything that’s directly affecting us… There haven’t been any major issues of discrimination, so… a lot of people left-of-center don’t have that personal connection.”

This “personal connection” (or the lack thereof) may be a major factor in the absence of student-led political organization on campus. Sage Creek English teacher, Mrs. Corrie Myers, has taught previously at more politically active high schools in Hesperia and Irvine.

“From what I’ve seen, [political activism] usually is reflective of someone who has experienced personally some of the strife that is involved in the political tensions,” Myers said. The English teacher mentioned that in her experience, a school tends to be more politically active, “If there’s a bigger population of students that have experienced [political issues].”

Perhaps such a personal connection to politics is lacking from Sage Creek. According to statistics from EdData, a majority of Sage Creek students are male (54 percent) and white (57 percent), and only 18 percent of the student body is eligible for free or reduced lunch (for reference, the state average for free/reduced lunch eligibility tends to hover around 50 percent of students).

The demographic data of Sage Creek may help explain the lack of the kind of activism that many other schools have been experiencing. Many of the protests that happened around the country centered around issues such as racial and gender equality or xenophobia, and students that have a personal experience with such issues are relatively absent from our school’s population.

AFLAC, like the school, is comprised largely of white males, and that particular demographic was Donald Trump’s largest constituency. It is therefore understandable that Donald Trump’s policies were able to resonate with the members of AFLAC at a personal level. Their personal connection to Trump’s policies, according to Munitz, was a large component in the ability of the group to organize.

“[The members of AFLAC] went to a bunch of Trump rallies together, so we had that personal drive to create something, ” Munitz said.

Though a personal connection may be important in inspiring political activism on campus, the lack thereof would not guarantee no form of activism can take place. Natelina Blake is a sophomore on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the members of AFLAC. While there has been little to be a part of on campus, she has been politically active outside of school.

“I’ve gone to a couple peaceful protest marches in Encinitas and Vista,” Blake said. “It’s not anti-Trump, it’s more pro-making sure everyone feels welcome and safe.”

To Blake, the lack of activism that is being seen elsewhere in the nation is, among other things, a coincidence.

According to Blake, “the culture here is progressive enough for something like [the protests] to happen, and I think if we organized it well enough, then it could happen. It just didn’t.”