Grizzly Unchained Makes a Statement

Grizzly Unchained Makes a Statement

Ashton DeLano and Austin Hille

An anti-leadership group of students became the talk of campus last month when they announced their intent to remove and replace student government.

But the lack of effective marketing to draw interest caused the attention to quickly fizzle in the first weeks after students learned of their agenda.

The formation of this unorthodox group, dubbed Grizzlies Unchained (GU), was unexpected to say the least. Following the placement of posters around campus on Sept. 9, a significant amount of traffic was directed to the group’s website, which brought even more attention to their cause.

Complete with online applications and a suggestion box, grizzliesunchained.com revealed more about the radical nature of this club’s mission.

According to the group’s leaders, seniors Simon Hwang and Anita Yu, school leadership does not listen to students enough and should be replaced with a group more representative of student voice.

The group’s leaders complained that events at Cal are not exciting or new, a problem they intended to fix.

“We are the voice of the student body, we exist to enact the changes that you want to see in Cal High,” said Yu, the group’s vice president as she read from a PowerPoint at one of GU’s sparsely attended meetings.

GU has not given up and hopes to continue with their mission, which is to “allow a greater amount of people to participate and be focused on creating exciting, worthwhile, and enriching events for and with the help of all students,” according to their website.

To achieve this, GU hopes to plan events at Cal whenever possible, including a poetry slam in November and a talent show later in the year.

Many leadership students were upset by the group’s emergence, especially after reading the GU website that was deemed distasteful and insulting.

On the opening page of a PowerPoint that was part of the site, the group introduced their purpose by stating, “We hope you have fresh ideas, dedication and a hatred for Leadership.”

After explaining the purpose and structure of the organization, the last slide read, “Please join if you want to make a difference in this school! And kick leadership’s ass.”

They have since removed the PowerPoint from its site.

“We never intended to be so hostile to leadership,” said Hwang. “I gave a writer some creative freedom on the website and he took it in a different direction than what we were going for.”

Senior class President Austin Downum and other members of leadership declined to comment for this story.

But Principal Mark Corti had a positive outlook on the issue when it first arose, and he was eager to reach a compromise. Corti was also aware that the opinions of GU members are shared by other students.

“I’ve known for years that sometimes students don’t feel represented,” Corti said.  “They feel that only leadership students have a say in what happens, and I think that’s what happened here.”

Leadership adviser Scott Corso also empathized with the feelings and goals of GU.

“The idea of student input is something we’re open to,” said Corso. “We understand that not everyone appreciates what we  do, but our goal is to improve Cal High.”

Even though GU created a significant buzz on campus, the identity of the founding members remained a secret for days until Sept. 11, when Hwang and Yu confronted Corso and the leadership class regarding the alleged removal of their posters around campus.

As a large crowd formed outside of the leadership room, Hwang, Yu and a third member of the group entered the leadership room and spoke with a few leadership students.

The Californian was not permitted to attend the meeting between GU and leadership, but some members of the leadership class revealed what happened.

The original intent of the meeting was for GU to get their posters back from leadership, but Corso invited them to sit down and discuss the possibility of leadership and the group working together.

“Corso isn’t trying to stop them,” said junior Lara Haller. “He just wants to talk.”

The two groups discussed how they felt about the influence of student voice at Cal, something that both sides agreed on, said Corso.

By the end of the meeting it seemed that they had come to an agreement.

“They (GU) are going to be nicer,” said senior Harshini Chengareddy. “They are going to remove all inflammatory remarks (on the website), and work to help Cal High.”

It turns out that overthrowing leadership had never been GU’s goal.

Currently on the GU website, there are no references to leadership nor the radical attitude toward the current administration. This may seem like a drastic change from it was believed the club originally stood for, but Hwang said this is what the club had in mind.

Hwang said GU is now planning to collaborate with leadership and help integrate more student voice into their events.  As revealed at an informational meeting on Sept. 30, another area that GU really wants to contribute to is the clubs around campus.

They plan to allow clubs to promote their events and meetings in their newsletter and on their website.

Yu said GU is very dedicated to helping students achieve their goals and she hopes the club will be the voice of the student body in the future.