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Samidha Mishra

Samidha Mishra

Though social media was initially created as a method of connection through simply sharing photos and videos, platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have also revolutionized activism. No longer do you need thousands of dollars or hundreds of workers to create a difference — all that is necessary is your phone and your will.

An excellent example of this is SMUHSD Awareness, a coalition of present and former students of the San Mateo Union High School District that endeavor to bring awareness to systemic problems and discrimination within the schools so as to pressure those in power to remedy them. The Instagram handle is @smuhsd.awareness and it has more than 2,000 followers on there. 

“Our ultimate goal is to create lasting change through equitable legislation,” a representative of the organization, a Burlingame High School alumnus, said. “We are dedicated to bringing justice through tangible impact for students, teachers, and community members.”

The group intends to magnify student voices on the administrative level, explaining that “a lack of information spreading and accessibility meant that there was a neglect of youth voices in critical decision-making voices.” 

This gap between the administration and the students is what SMUHSD Awareness is trying to close by “ensuring that student voices are included and compensated at every step of decision-making processes.”

The organization’s roots were at Burlingame High School, where the aforementioned representative was inspired by another school district’s awareness page to create one for SMUHSD too. 

“Throughout my four years in high school, I witnessed and experienced a significant amount of injustices, and an even more prominent amount of administration and district neglect,” they say. “So I reached out to students at BHS and all over the district with the idea to start something like SFUSD’s account, and San Mateo Union High School District Awareness was created.” 

The Instagram account collects and posts stories from anonymous students and staff members about the discrimination and injustices they have faced within the school district. 

“To begin, some of the stories came from our own experiences or our friends,” the student describes, “but soon people began noticing our account and sharing their own.”

The influence of this account stretches far further than the virtual realm, though. In fact, SMUHSD Awareness contributed to the vital discourse that led Burlingame High School’s history department to move away from the typical eurocentric view of their curriculum by shifting to AP modern world history from AP European history.

Instituting definite changes such as these by applying pressure on decision-makers is considered the essence of this organization. 

“That’s why everything is anonymous. We want to emphasize that the problems highlighted in the stories cannot be solved with a simple disciplinary action,” the representative explains. “They can only be solved using systemic change and material results for students, by working to close the equity gap, by instilling culturally responsive curricula and teaching practices, by valuing belonging, diversity and equity at every single step of the way.”

Samidha Mishra is a senior at San Mateo High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at news@smdailyjournal.com.

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(13) comments

Tafhdyd

Ms. Mishra,

Sounds like a good project. Keep up the good work. Don't worry about the naysayers and those that try and belittle others that don't agree with their way of thinking.

willallen

"The organization’s roots were at Burlingame High School, where the aforementioned representative was inspired by another school district’s awareness page to create one for SMUHSD too. "

Anson Burlingame was a bigot. that's your history lesson for today.

Ray Fowler

You know, when a bully tries to push around someone unlikely to resist, onlookers often just watch. Not today.

I'm not sure how you intended for your comment to fit into any conversation... real or imagined... following Samidha's column... or if it was just meant to demean Samidha's content. Come back to the comments section next week... there are plenty of readers from both sides of the aisle who will be happy to engage you in debate.

willallen

I didn't mean to criticize her. You are right. I wanted to encourage her to pursue an angle ignored in a day when statues are torn down or defaced.

Tafhdyd

willallen,

The Student News column in the DJ is written by students with an interest in journalism. I am surprised you didn't hype your book, Philip's Code, that you bring up whenever the subject presents itself. Instead I see you take a cheap shot unrelated to the article as Ray says.

Terence Y

Taffy, my friend, last week weren’t you attempting to associate this book with a different DJ subscriber? Is this daylight savings change causing you to mistakenly (?) take an unrelated to the article, cheap shot at the wrong person?

Tafhdyd

Terence,

Not the time change, might be my computer link, but I don't think so. A week or so ago wlydecker promoted the book and that afternoon or the next day he became phildavis and the next day became willallen, at least when I check on my link. You told him he could be Superman on one page and Clark Kent on the other, remember?

Ray Fowler

Good work, Tafhdyd

Terence Y

Taffy, that’s pretty funny – I do remember that, although I don’t recall the user. I don’t know whether this man of three names should be flattered or wary of your cyberstalking. Maybe he can expand to 1000 names, and include future aliases such as franknstine or johnreid. Maybe even tomclancy or jorrg (not to be mistaken with our mutual friend). Enjoy your extra hour – time for our annual daylight savings bbq.

willallen

Read the book. I hope she does. She'll find it Journalism 101.. I wanted to encourage her to go after a story ignored in a time when statues are torn down.

willallen

I have good reasons, one some might regard as a conflict of interest. Hey, how are your getting info on screen names? Are you working out of Russia?

Tafhdyd

willallen,

Just paying attention to the comments and who writes them. I like to know who is on the right and who is on the left and IMO most of those on the left are right and most of those on the right are wrong. I work out of San Mateo. Trump and his followers work out of Russia. BTW, fair enough on your earlier explanatory post.

Terence Y

This SMUHSD Awareness idea could be a good thing, as long as it is used for good. In addition to bringing awareness of these so-called systemic problems and discrimination, the group can provide analysis of the financial and economic impacts to schools and their administration. In addition to ensuring students are educated to the best of their abilities and not “stuck” being only as intelligent as the least intelligent student. Instead of lowering educational standards, maybe this group can increase standards so all students can be proud of their educational experience. Otherwise, more students will head for loftier goals, in the form of private or home schooling. Just in case, let’s all vote for CA school choice and education savings accounts. If parents choose public schools, then SMUHSD Awareness has made a positive contribution.

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