In order to gain perspective from the student body, the BFA Mercury created and sent out a poll regarding school safety, gun violence, and gun control.
The poll was created by two BFA Mercury members: Grace Bates and Eros Bouley-Swedo. The pair created a series of questions in Google Forms format pertaining to students and sent it to English Department Chair Keith Carlton. All student created polls must be approved by a department chair; because journalism is in the English department, Mr. Carlton was involved.
Mr. Carlton approved the poll, after asking the poll’s creators to make some revisions, and it was sent out on April 3, 2018. A few days later, the poll was closed with 317 responses. Each of the responses was from a student attending BFA.
Most of the questions were multiple choice, and when a question was asked, people responded with strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, or strongly agree. The statistics for each poll question are shown at left.
The last question was multiple choice, but with an “other” option; people were able to write in the text-box the answer to the following question: “To decrease future school shootings, what precautions should be made? (Check all that apply, if none, use other.)”
46.1 percent of students agreed that stricter gun laws should be implemented. 37.9 percent of students agreed there should be more metal detectors and police at school. 72.6 percent of students agreed that people should invest more in troubled, young students so they can get the help they need. 8.5 percent of students agreed that everything is fine the way it is.
Many students checked the “other” option and left messages on how they think the amount of school shootings can be decreased. Some of these comments included: more background checks on people buying guns, talk more about bullying, look into mental health more, investing in younger students, etc.
After the poll was sent out, prior to it’s use here, Principal Mosca expressed concern about two questions; “I feel safe at BFA”, and “The school has proper safety protocols to keep kids safe during a potential threat.” His concern centered on how the questions were phrased. The question “I feel safe at BFA” can pertain to gun safety, bullying, harassment, or other types of experiences.
Mosca’s concern about the protocols question was primarily that the question did not ask if the students knew what the protocols were in the first place.
Though Mosca initially asked for the data from those two questions not to be published, after meeting with Mercury student editors, an agreement was reached to allow the questions to be published, based on recent legislation on the issue.
The New Voices Legislation is a law created in May 2017 that protects high school journalist’s rights to be uncensored. The criteria in which administration may censor a school publication is when media: is libelous or slanderous, constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy, may be defined as obscene, may be defined as harassment or bullying, violates federal or state law, and/or disrupts ability of school to perform its educational mission.
The BFA Mercury decided to publish this information in order to show student perspective, as well as exercising the journalistic right to free speech.