Pe­taluma vale­dic­to­rian veers off script, has mic si­lenced

Manteca Bulletin - - Local / State -

PE­TALUMA (AP) — Pe­taluma High School vale­dic­to­rian Lu­la­bel Seitz never had a chance to drop the mic at her grad­u­a­tion ad­dress. School of­fi­cials si­lenced the sound sys­tem after she veered off a preap­proved speech.

Seitz said later that she was “un­fairly cut off” for try­ing to ad­dress the si­lenc­ing of vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault, some­thing she said she ex­pe­ri­enced on the cam­pus.

Many of the grad­u­ates wear­ing pur­ple and white robes stood up, cheered and chanted “let her speak” as she tried to fin­ish her speech June 2, The Press Demo­crat of Santa Rosa re­ported . Stu­dents clapped in sup­port and shouted as she re­turned to her seat in the front row dur­ing the cer­e­mony on the school foot­ball field.

Seitz said she was “ap­palled” that the school had pulled the plug on her ad­dress, though of­fi­cials said all speak­ers had been warned the mi­cro­phone would be muted if they went off message.

Prin­ci­pal David Stir­rat said the school had been tipped off in ad­vance that Seitz might de­vi­ate from her ap­proved re­marks.

Seitz said the school ad­min­is­tra­tion feared the truth. She posted video on YouTube of her in­ter­rupted speech and added an un­cen­sored ver­sion of the full speech she tried to de­liver.

In the ex­panded ver­sion, she said stu­dents hadn’t let it drag them down when some on cam­pus de­fended per­pe­tra­tors of sex­ual vi­o­lence and si­lenced their vic­tims.

Seitz said she was sex­u­ally as­saulted on cam­pus by some­one she knew and wanted to show frus­tra­tion for a lack of ac­tion by the school.

“I thought this is a pub­lic school with free­dom of speech,” she told the news­pa­per. “This is for my class that stood up and said ‘let her speak.’ Even if the ad­min­is­tra­tion doesn’t give me a mic, I still want to speak.”

Seitz, 17, whose grand­par­ents im­mi­grated from the Philip­pines, is the first mem­ber of her fam­ily to grad­u­ate from high school. She will at­tend Stan­ford Univer­sity.

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