“We have no place to charge our Teslas:” underprivileged Walnut students share their stories

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Emily Cao, Print editor-in-chief

To the school administration: 

We, the downtrodden students at Walnut High School, refuse to stay silent about the oppressive public education system which we are subjected to. 

Our grievances are plenty – in a non-materialistic way, of course. We really don’t care about opulence or extravagant lifestyles; in fact, I helped my parents save $10,000 by opting for a Tesla without the self-driving feature. 

Clearly, there are compromises I’m willing to make, but the quality of my education is not one. That’s why I’m utterly disturbed that the school’s underfunded facilities and resources have hindered my learning experience significantly. Not even AP Japanese is offered here, for instance, and given the demographic of students that watch anime, this decision is blatantly othering. 

Limited course selection aside, it seems like the school has tried to persecute us in every possible way. How can I keep up with current events if the feeble school WiFi won’t support the live stream of the World Cup? Am I to be forced to learn using the school’s dinosaur technology – the free Chromebooks? Must I accept that my stock earnings haven’t changed despite taking AP Economics instead of working-class, regular economics? 

You’d think the most enjoyable part of my school day is lunch, but it’s quite the opposite. With the vacancy of vegetarian, keto or even paleotarian alternatives served here, I propose we finally end the tyranny of the free meal program and reallocate its funds to improve our selection of food. And for those unable to pay for school lunch, I’d charitably offer my thoughts and prayers. 

People say that I’m “privileged” but it’s simply not true: how can I possibly be privileged when I lack the basic human right to a bathroom mirror at school? It’s taxing not to be able to see myself represented in the bathroom mirrors, because representation is important as a minority at Walnut – we Tesla drivers need solidarity, especially with the school’s active suppression of our rights. 

While I can bear to feign humility anytime someone at school finds out I have a Tesla, I draw the line at the injustice of not having access to electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the student parking lot. Not only does this violate Title IX, the school’s nondiscrimination policy, it also violates the law of Mother Earth. So, like Greta Thunberg, I’ve decided to organize a #FridaysForFuture strike to protest construction of the new gym – land and money wasted on a less pertinent, less environmentally-conscious cause. 

The stress of these ongoing events has of course taken a personal toll – and the therapy dogs and marshmallow-less hot chocolate simply don’t cut it. More unmotivated than I’d ever been – overloaded with the work I’d missed from tending to my activist duties – my final straw was learning that the ASB snack line doesn’t sell Adderall because “prescribed medicine is prohibited on campus.” How typical of the school to use red tape as an excuse to be frugal.

So until the administration takes action, I personally will be on strike indefinitely. Though I wouldn’t normally cause such unrest or even call myself an activist, I have never seen injustice run so deeply in any social, political or economic system and can only hope to obtain rights for my peers by speaking out.