Silenced speakers stir anything but silence
October 14, 2015
Every music speaker has an off button. Apparently, some students may have one too.
Carlmont senior Arron faced the possibility of silencing his music for good several weeks ago, when the masked “walking DJ” was stopped suddenly by the administration during his weekly Friday routine. The situation revolving around Arron, whose last name has been kept anonymous for his privacy, has caused substantial confusion among the student body.
So what really happened? For those who are not familiar with Arron, the Carlmont senior makes a route through campus every Friday, dressed in blue from head to toe and playing upbeat music on portable speakers. Dubbed the “masked DJ” due to his signature mask used to hide his identity, Arron has become widely known around campus after his commitment of playing music for two consecutive years. In addition to being deeply intrigued by his unique appearance, many students often look forward to seeing him every week and envision him as a symbol of school spirit.
Concern began when Arron was allegedly stopped along his usual route by Vice Principal Gregg Patner in August, an occurrence that sparked curiosity and an abundance of rumors amongst the student body. Patner, who was introduced as a new Carlmont staff member this year, reportedly asked Arron to take off his mask and lower the volume of his music. If not obeyed, Arron would be forced to stop playing music altogether.
Although he says he complied to the requests of Patner, Arron reports that he was called back two more times for a discussion with the administration. During those two meetings, he was told to stop passing out food, which he said he had resorted to in replacement of his music. Arron was told that the food may cause allergic reactions to certain students, and it was a risk the administration could not take. According to Arron, he was also told that if he continued to play music in the same manner as he had done before or continued to pass out food, he would be suspended.
However, the administration seems to have a different take on the situation. Vice Principal Patner declined to comment on specific questions regarding the situation with Arron, claiming that the administration “is limited in what [it is] able to respond to, as student confidentiality is something that it respects.” He did, however, release a statement on behalf of the administration.
In a written response, Patner states, “Carlmont has encouraged Aaron to play music on Friday at lunch with appropriate lyrics and volume. They appreciate his message of passing along joy to his fellow classmates and are in support of the positive following that he has.”
Patner continued by stating the requirements of the administration regarding the situation: “The school also expects that he properly identifies himself while on campus when his face is covered and does not pass out any food to students for safety reasons.”
Also contrary to Arron’s report, according to Carlmont Principal Ralph Crame and Instructional Vice Principal Jennifer Cho, suspension was never mentioned as a consequence. The administrators were clear in stating that the only reason they would suspend a student would be due to explicitly harmful action or a blatant violation of school rules.
For Arron, they said, the concern only arose when he began passing out food. He was allowed to play music just as he was last year, but the reason the issue was brought to attention was because he was violating school rules by passing out food.
As for alternatives offered to Arron, he must be properly identified at all times in order to play music. This includes displaying his student I.D. at all times, or consenting to being unmasked. The reason for this, according to the administration, is because the school does not allow students to wear masks at anytime during school. Although unwilling at first because it broke his aura of “mystery” when walking down the hallways, Arron eventually complied with displaying his I.D. for proper identification.
Arron’s motive may be interpreted in a variety of ways, but his message of why he stays remains clear. His obstacle with the administration caused no change of heart in the DJ, who claims he would have remained steadfast to his Friday routine despite the consequences.
“This year [I actually] wasn’t going to come back. I came back for you guys. Just the fact that I can bring a smile [is] what inspires me to keep playing music,” said Arron when asked why he chose to remain faithful to his routine in the face of suspension.
Whether in regard to the administration’s restrictions or shutting off his music, Arron’s temporary “silencing” has achieved an opposite effect among the student population. It just so happens that the loss of a voice led to the joined voices of many others, and the temporary loss of school spirit caused the long-term realization of its necessity.
While the situation with Arron has been resolved, the past series of events sparked a broader, overarching concern among the student population. The actions of Vice Principal Patner caused students to question whether authority was being used in unnecessary conditions and if they violated their right to expression and school spirit. Many shared the concern that Patner was implementing rules and restrictions too quickly as a first-year administrator, and some wondered if they went against his own claims.
This concern arose from previously released statements from Patner. In an interview for another Scot Scoop article, for example, Patner reportedly said the following: “First I want to understand everything that’s being done [by the Carlmont administration]. That’s really what my initial charge is. I don’t want to be the guy who comes in and says, ‘Oh, we have to this and this,’ without even really understanding if it’s going to work.”
The apparent inconsistency with Patner’s proposed beliefs has caused some students to tilt heads. Among them is senior Jason Chow, who expressed his concern with the restrictions that were newly implemented this year. Arron had been allowed to play music last year, but according to Chow, Patner’s arrival led to a sudden change in the administration’s viewpoint.
In an email to Patner directly after the confrontation, Chow stated, “Arron has emerged as one of the most idiosyncratic citizens residing at our school. He just wouldn’t be the same without being able to do his Friday routine […] His Friday routine brings ebullience not only to him, but to the entire student body. He is one of the rare individuals in high school. It would be a shame to force Arron to be somebody that he is not.”
There was even consideration of protest among the student population, including rallying everyone to play music during lunch or wearing masks similar to Arron’s to achieve a widespread effect. Although these measures were not ultimately implemented, they were under serious consideration by several students.
The claim that no one realizes what they have until it’s gone might have some truth after all.