Video Production Teacher Justin Seiwell explains what it is like to be a journalism teacher in the post-election environment
“Ever since I was little, both of my parents were pretty vocal in the house as far as where they stood on things,” said CHS Video Production and Forensics teacher Justin Seiwell. “Growing up in [a] household that had that kind of discourse, I’ve never been someone who can just comfortably sit back when I know that people are hurting.”
Most recently, Trump’s controversial presidency has made Seiwell’s unwillingness to sit back even more apparent. He is an ardent supporter of women’s rights and has marched extensively with Black Lives Matter protests. “A lot of the conversations that came out of that process were really good, solid conversations for bringing people together, and I really valued that,” Seiwell said.
But the controversy surrounding the new administration has also made it more difficult for Seiwell to produce neutral Greyhound Exclusive Television content.
“The GET broadcasts during third hour are to captive audiences. I don’t want to force someone to watch something that they absolutely object to, so I try to be very conscious of that time,” Seiwell said. “We want to create a solid, well-rounded community of both teachers and students working together to learn and grow so that when you all graduate, you can start working towards making things a little bit better and have more knowledge, more understanding, more efficacy, and more power to control what’s going on in the world.”
After Trump’s victory, many CHS students approached Seiwell to discuss the results of the election.
“Throughout the day, people would just walk up to me and we would have conversations and start talking. Typically, the student would express concern to me. And my response was that I’m also having concerns that I wasn’t necessarily having 24 hours ago,” he said.
Seiwell is quick to point out that his concern for the current administration is not political. “I’m a debate teacher; I like discourse and argument,” he said. “I can certainly appreciate and [respect] administrations that make decisions I disagree with.”
But this does not mean that Seiwell shies away from criticizing President Trump’s rhetoric.
“I’m a public school teacher. I’m going to deal with people who don’t look like me everyday, who don’t think like me everyday, who don’t have the same romantic and sexual attractions like me everyday. To dismiss other people based on racist, homophobic and misogynistic language is horrendous. I don’t want my students to ever feel that I condone that, or that I support it, or that it should be acceptable in our society as anything other than trash,” Seiwell said.
Despite his distaste for Donald Trump’s offensive rhetoric, Seiwell is not terrified of the country’s future.
“I take my solace in that overwhelmingly, the American people want what is best for each other. We don’t have to live in fear of our leadership,” he said. “We should definitely be critical of our leaders, but I’m not terrified of tyranny coming down on the United States. As long as we are watchful and mindful, we can avoid going down that course.”
Seiwell sees the rocky political climate as an opportunity for students, regardless of their political stance, to express their individual beliefs. “You can still hold your values and be proud of them,” he said. “This is actually a moment where your values can shine. Now is a good time to articulate better what you personally believe in.”