Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why So Much of a Fuss?

Why So Much of a Fuss?
October 30, 2012
Kabir Vega Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — Since twenty days ago, I haven't been allowed to enter my
high school. I'm in good physical and mental condition, and I want to
attend my classes as well as finish the twelfth grade and develop

A friend of mine is also going through the same situation as me. The
first day of school, we waited outside the school along with the rest of
the students.

They told us to go on in to our classrooms and we walked through the
main entrance (the first gate), but when we tried to go through the
second entrance, the principal and the vice principal cut us off.

They said we couldn't go in until we got our hair cut.

We don't even know where our classrooms are, and they refused to give us
the books we need to study on our own. We asked why and they told us
that the new dress code requires students to be "properly groomed and

It doesn't matter if the reason for having long hair is one's religious
belief, or if it's the image you feel most comfortable with, or if it
gives you a feeling of security… though females can grow their hair as
long as they like.

My friend and I show up at school every day and every day were stopped
and turned away from the grounds. The explanation is always the same:
school has rules that must be complied with to the letter.

On Thursday, October 11, we left for school earlier than usual. Since it
was dark we couldn't see the sky and didn't notice that it was cloudy.
Along the way it started to drizzle, but as we got closer to the school
that drizzle turned into a torrent.

Notwithstanding, they still didn't let us come in. The principal yelled
at us when we left, and when we mentioned the rain she said she wasn't
to blame for us insisting on coming to school even though they would
never let us in.

I responded saying, "I come to school because it's my duty," to which
she answered back with, "Until you fulfill your other duties [getting a
haircut] you can't come in."

The walk back home wasn't easy. My Alamar neighborhood is poorly
designed, the sewer system is terrible, and the hilly areas tend to
accumulate water – so the streets were like swamps.

A clear violation of our consitution

As we know, the school's policy is in violation of the Cuban
Constitution, which states "no young person be left without the
opportunity to study." But that isn't what bothers me most.

What's angering me and pushing me to the point of despair is seeing how,
throughout my entire school life, they've always prioritized the most
trivial and unimportant things.

When I was in junior high school, I used to idealize senior high and I
was sure it would be a major change. But I was wrong. We have students
in my own classroom who lack knowledge they should have gotten in
elementary school.

Throughout this war over our "long hair," one junior high chemistry
teacher threatened to expel us from school if we didn't get haircuts,
though he wasn't restricted by any dress standard. However when my
science teacher — who's an alcoholic — hit two students in the face,
they only suspended him for a few months.

I think there are really important things here that are ignored. I'm
tired of so much hypocrisy; we're held down by certain regulations that
impose senseless notions with which most people disagree.

Hell, our revolution was won by combatants wearing full beards and long

I don't understand. Perhaps I'm not conscious of everything, but I know
how much I need to get through the twelfth grade, and I know that this
situation is affecting me a lot.

I've already accumulated 16 involuntary absences, and they've warned us
that 30 absences in a row can get us kicked out of school.

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