Promoters Visiting Venice To Push Their Own Agendas

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Although Venice High’s open campus is monitored and surveyed, this doesn’t mean that Venice is immune to outside influences.   

It’s not uncommon for individuals or groups to promote themselves near public institutions like schools. But it’s important to examine the reasoning and the morality of people promoting ideas to students.

Should outside promotion be tolerated at Venice? Or are high schoolers knowledgeable enough to be trusted with how they deal with outside influences? 

High schoolers are barely beginning to form their ideas and identity. This can make students much more receptive to new ideas and information. And while this sounds great, it can also make high schoolers more vulnerable, according to freshman Marcel Martinez. 

“We are still young and could be very impressionable,” he said. “I think telling us wrong ideas could have a lasting effect on us.”

 There have been many instances of people promoting themselves to Venice students this year. But the earliest instance happened in September, when the Revolutionary Communists, or RevCom, visited Venice High and promoted their ideology and political agenda to students. They have been frequently visiting Venice ever since.  

 According to promotional materials, RevComs’ stances are mostly centered around revolution and abolition. They focus on spreading the communist ideas of Bob Avakian, who is, in their eyes, the new face of communism. The organization is also focused on conversations surrounding the climate crisis and several social rights movements. 

  They had positioned themselves numerous times on the sidewalks right outside the campus and approached students with signs and flyers that promoted their political ideology.

According to some students, encounters with RevCom members weren’t very threatening, but it came off as more confusing. Students don’t expect to see revolutionary communists popping up in front of their school. 

  “One morning, while I was coming to school, I noticed about two or three people yelling in a megaphone about joining a revolution,” Martinez said. “At first, I didn’t know who they were, and I thought they were part of the school. But once we checked ourselves in with the Daily Pass people, they told us that they were not part of the school and we could throw their flyers away.” 

Although students were surprised, they didn’t seem fazed or influenced by these promoters. This raises the question of whether it’s even something to worry about. Maybe students just aren’t as easily convinced as is commonly thought, a sentiment that teachers seem to share.

“Under the First Amendment, Americans have the right to hand out political literature, and have political conversations with people regardless of where you are,” said history teacher Peta Lindsay. 

Lindsay has some experience organizing outside of schools where she was an anti-war organizer. 

“This was prior to when the internet was a big thing,” she said. “Leafleting outside of high schools like this is a fairly common tactic for grassroots organizers because high schools are places that have a lot of people and young people who care a lot about social movements or social change.” 

While extreme political agendas being shared with students by outsiders seems scary, it appears that times are changing. The Venice community has different views and ideas, and it seems that in this day and age students can be smarter with the information they are given. 

       “As long as the protests respect the right of students to learn in a safe environment, I don’t see the problem with groups or individuals coming outside our schools,” said government teacher Ahsan Minhas. “Free speech and the right to protest are essential American freedoms and a healthy society should be able to confront different ideas and points of views, even ones that the majority disagree with or find distasteful.” 

 Whether or not promotion poses a danger to students, it still might not be up to school regulations, said principal Cynthia Headrick.

“As long as they’re on the sidewalk, there is nothing we can do as long as they don’t go on campus,” she said. “They have the legal right to be there, but they don’t have the legal right to impede students going to school.”

“They aren’t supposed to come up to our students—our students should be going to them. So that’s where we have those boundaries that we have to set for those groups.”

The Oarsman has reached out to RevCom twice, regarding their views on reaching out to high school students. Our request for an interview never reached their organization. However, on one of their visits, they handed out flyers encouraging students to attend a Q&A over Zoom.

The flyers included questions that they presumed students or teachers would ask and provided answers in order to give an example of what the meeting would feature. One of the questions they address is why they would reach out to high school students with ideas of revolution. 

“Regardless of what you’ve told about how old you have to be for your opinion to matter, the environment and with it your future and the future of people all over the world, is on track to being destroyed,” the flyer said.

As of this moment, RevCom has visited more than once a week. Their most recent flyers offer the idea of them entering the school to debate and discuss with students and teachers about their ideas. 

Not all instances involve topics as extreme as political agendas, however. On September 13th, two people performed on a stage pulled by a truck after school on Venice Blvd. The two people danced and promoted their Instagram account(s). Although this instance seems more innocent, it could cause a disturbance at school.                                        

“With the concert, the performers were using language that is not appropriate at school, caused large crowds to gather for a moment, and they were blocking traffic in the street,” Headrick said. “So, when things like that happen, we call Los Angeles School Police and LAPD.” 

Then on October 15, Blueface, a popular rapper, made an appearance at the back of Venice High School. He started his performance on top of a U-Haul truck and started rapping and signing shoes, phones, and shirts. Many students rushed over to the back of the school when classes immediately ended. It was rumored throughout the week that he would visit Venice based on the rapper’s Instagram stories. 

At the time when he visited Venice, Blueface had 8.2 million followers on TikTok, and 552,000 on Instagram. His songs have mostly been featured and popularized by TikTok.  

Blueface has been visiting high schools around LA, including Palisades Charter High School, Santa Fe High School, and others. His high school hopping showcases a form of promotion that hasn’t been seen before among celebrities.

Overall, outsiders and outside ideas being introduced to high schoolers isn’t something new. It makes sense considering our school’s wide-open campus. What is new, however, is how people are responding to it. Everyone has different opinions and the discussion around outside promotion is a worthwhile one, considering the current times.