The Defiant Ones

by Mike Kroll

Harking back to the days of the mimeographed "underground" school newspaper, two Galesburg High School students have brought that medium into the computer age. Like students of a generation ago, their effort is in response to their perception that school administrators make great efforts to stifle any and all critical comment and personal expression within their school. Their new forum is beyond the direct control of school and, using the Internet, offers a unique and interactive method of challenging the status quo.

The website in question is and it is the brainchild of junior Aimee Davidson and senior Phil Fennig. Together they have produced a website where their fellow students can rant, criticize and offer solutions for the myriad aspects of high school life in Galesburg that drives them nuts ñ not the usual pablum found in most school newspapers.

"The whole idea really came from a discussion at band camp this past summer," explained Aimee. "We were sitting around listening to a friend read from Michael Moore’s book, Stupid White Men. In the book Moore talked about how just about anybody can start a high school club and we laughed about how cool it would be to have a means to rail against the idiocy of so many aspects of GHS."

Rather than starting a club, Aimee and Phil decided to start their own interactive website. There they wanted to provide an open forum for all of their fellow students through which they hoped a few things about the high school experience at GHS might be changed for the better. While Aimee conceptualized the site’s content, Phil focused his efforts on writing the html code that would the make the new site come to life.

"We started out being hosted at one of the free sites but our web site started getting too much traffic and exceeded the amount of bandwidth they allowed us to use," said Phil. "We needed something much better but at a cost we could afford." What Phil found was Hong Kong-based where five bucks per month gets them 333 megabytes of web space and their own URL ñ or web address.

The website hasn’t’ even been up three months yet and the two admit that so far they haven’t dome much to promote it. "As soon as we get the next section of the site up and running we plan to begin advertising on flyers at the school and stuff like that," said Phil. Currently the site boasts four short articles and a bulletin board forum or discussion of life at GHS. "Until we get the next part of the site up, the forum is the real essence of the site," notes Aimee.

While the two have encouraged others to submit new articles to the site so far the only four articles were penned by the duo themselves, two apiece. The home page proclaims:

Welcome all. This is your free voice in a system that continues to shit on us, the students at GHS, day in and day out. …Submit whatever the hell you want, uncut, uncensored, and exactly the way you want it. Use this website to your advantage by gaining knowledge and sharing your hate, pity, or even praise (if you must) about GHS and its prisoners/wardens.

Anyone can click onto the site and explore at will but to post to the forum you must register. Registration is done simply enough. You must choose a user name and provide a password plus an e-mail address. The e-mail address can be rendered non-public if the user wishes. The forums are pretty much a "come as you are" sort of activity with just a few rules:

  1. Post Constructively - Nobody will get anything out of anyone's topics if they are in very poor taste, contain information of a useless nature, or contain very little constructive text.  Use your head.
  2. Don't Single People Out - Everyone's here for the same purposes, to discuss, share views/opinions, vent anger frustrations with our school, and to have fun.  Don't spoil someone's time on here by singling them out and insulting them.  This means <b>never</b> use real names and don't insult unless you can back it up constructively and intelligently with more than just four letter words.
  3. Profanity is Allowed, but not Encouraged - This is more of a helpful hint actually.  Most everyone on here uses profanity from time to time, including the forum.  Take this as a privilege and use it wisely.  Speak how you want, but remember that over usage of profanity can make you seem ignorant and ill-educated.
  4. Post your opinion - Lastly, don't be afraid to post your opinion, whatever it may be.  Even if you love the High School, topics about that have the possibility of being excellent discussion topics.  Discussion is always the most productive when both sides are able to be seen clearly. Posts that contain little or no text, or that are extremely against the above listed will be deleted.  Posts that could be good but become total crap or posts with little constructive value will most likely be locked (usually with a reason). Other than that, don't hold back, and have fun!

All the usual topics are covered from bad food in the cafeteria to complaints about the sham of student council to pointing out problems with the four-block schedule. "We really didn’t want to do anything that violated the GHS Code of Conduct, however silly many of the rules are. We researched this and determined that there really isn’t much school officials can do to stop this," explained Phil.

Aimee adds, "We hope to get much more participation as we encourage other students to do more than just complain. Our new section will be called revolution and participants will be asked to propose solutions to the problems they see at GHS. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone in the administration actually listened to students for a change?"

Uploaded to The Zephyr website September 30, 2002

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