New requirement for students’ Google account profile picture implemented

Students required to have a recent photo of their face or initials

Although previously allowed to choose their Google profile picture, students will now be required to display a recent photograph of their face or just their initials. This policy will be applied district-wide.

In discussions about school connectedness and culture, the administration felt that student pictures allowed for classes and teachers to better identify each other and create a collaborative environment. Additionally, teachers brought up some concerns regarding isolated instances in which students used derogatory, inappropriate and/or racist imagery for their Google profile pictures. 

“I brought up the thumbnail issue with the district due to the fact that I was finding an alarming number of Pepe the Frog images,” social science teacher DJ Cook wrote to the Talon.  

The Pepe the Frog character was not created as a racist or anti-Semitic character, however it has been appropriated and turned into a meme by many people on the internet and altered with different circumstances or words. 

“It is my opinion that there should be a zero tolerance policy in regards to racism, especially at a public high school,” Cook wrote.

Principal Kevin Buchanan hopes this new policy places more emphasis on classroom etiquette, as well assisting teachers with a more accurate recording of attendance. He hopes that teachers will no longer have to spend valuable instructional time trying to determine the meaning or intention of images or memes used in students’ profile pictures. 

“[I hope this policy puts] more focus on how students conduct themselves with respect for each other in the digital classrooms,” Buchanan wrote. 

Teachers have been instructed to inform their students of this new policy. If students don’t comply, parents may be directly notified by the teacher.  If that doesn’t ultimately remedy the situation, administrative discipline may follow.

“I hope that an environment in which students can feel supported, safe, and connected to their school and each other will be encouraged by this policy,” Coordinator for Safety and Equity Holly Baxter wrote to the Talon. 

Cook believes it was not made clear what the true reason or goal of the change was but instead was simply mandated and the greater issue was glossed over.

“I would like the people in positions of power that have the ability to impact change to take this problem on directly rather than passively maneuvering around it to avoid the inconvenience of a lawsuit,” Cook wrote. “Ethics and morality should outweigh the financial burden of pending lawsuits.”

According to Cook he has been calling the administration and district to action for years. 

“If you are in witness to racism and you do nothing…you are complicit,” Cook wrote. “Some fights are worth having.”