A student who graduated top of her class had her speech cut short after she went off topic and began to speak about sexual assault.
17-year-old Lulabel Seitz, who was graduating from Petaluma High School, in California, had her microphone cut off after she ‘went off script’ during her valedictorian speech.
The ‘disappointed’ student ended up recording the uncensored version of the speech and uploaded it to YouTube as ‘Valedictorian Mic Cut :: Uncensored Speech’.
According to Buzzfeed, Seitz, inspired by the likes of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, ignored the wishes of the school’s administrators to speak out against the treatment of sexual assault victims. It was a subject close to her heart as she’d been assaulted by another student last fall.
Yet officials at her school cut her microphone shortly after starting her speech during last Saturday’s graduation (June 2), which left her ‘disappointed’.
However, the actions of the school board did not surprise her ‘because they do this a lot, they make students be quiet’, according to Seitz.
She’d been planning her speech well in advance after she found out the school would be making her valedictorian several months ago. She wanted to give a yearly review of the good and bad experiences of the Class of 2018.
The bad experience involved her being sexually assaulted by a classmate during school hours. Furthermore, this happened on more than one occasion.
While action was taken by the police and Petaluma High School were aware of Seitz claims, the accused was still allowed to attend – he was even allowed to graduate.
She stated: ‘They don’t really do anything to the perpetrator’ which, understandably, left her feeling frustrated. Seitz also claims other girls at the school went through similar ordeals.
Officials refused to comment on the claims, instead, a statement from the school district was released which stated:
Administrators and staff in Petaluma City Schools care deeply about the safety and well being of our students. Due to student privacy issues, we cannot and should not respond with specific information.
We can say that when issues of sexual assault come to our attention, local law enforcement has initial jurisdiction and determines the course of action.
If an alleged event happens off campus or on, we work to support our students with appropriate discipline, extensive counseling [sic], and whatever measures we can take to protect our students while they are in our learning environment.
Seitz explained how the administrators had told her they needed to give her speech their seal of approval in advance. Any negative content in the draft meant she would not be allowed to speak.
Officials were apparently tipped-off with information she was going to use this opportunity to bring up the issue of sexual assault.
They pulled me out of my last class in high school to say ‘You can’t speak about how we treat sexual assault victims.
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
I thought about that a lot, if I’m going to be quiet about this, that’s really sad…because it’ll just keep persisting
I wasn’t going to do it because they kept scaring me and threatening me. But I thought, if I don’t stand up for me and the other girls, then who is going to do it? It was just a kind of a moral decision I had to make.
When the day of her graduation and speech finally arrived Seitz thought ‘they would cut me a lot earlier’. It was only after she got to about four minutes into her speech – just as she was about to address the sexual assault issues – her microphone was cut.
This prompted the audience to chant ‘let her speak’.
An official from Petaluma High, whose identity was not revealed, claimed her version contradicted the school’s ‘perspective’ of the event.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2:30 and 7-9:30). They also offer a victim support line on 0808 168 9111.