Senior song changed: Mr. Perry explains the decision

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Mr. Perry making the DPNews announcement

Jacob Molina, Co-editor-in-chief

The corporate backlash against Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has reached DP. 

Assistant Principal Ian Perry announced yesterday that the senior class song is going to be changed from “Touch the Sky,” by Ye. The song was chosen in the class assembly on October 12, and received roughly 40 votes. 

Ye has been suspended by Instagram and Twitter following anti-Semitic comments earlier this month. Adidas also cut ties with the rapper following his statements after facing increasing public pressure. 

ASB president Edo Barel met with Mr. Perry on Monday and decided that the school was unwilling to allow the song to represent the senior class.

“It came to the attention of the school administration team that the artist of the song chosen recently made anti-Semitic statements,” Perry said in the DPNews announcement. “As a school and district, we do not support this hate speech, and therefore we don’t want this artist’s song to represent the senior class of 2023.” 

Sophia Keane (12) said she thought the decision was a good move.

“I think it would have been really weird if our school had our senior song that is sung by who I would consider the most outspoken anti-Semite right now in America, or at least the most popular one,” she said.

Perry said the goal of the senior song is to be a hype song played at graduation and grad night. “It’s the song that represents them as seniors,” he said.

A link to re-vote was sent on StudentSquare, and Perry said it will close this afternoon.

“I think they handled it well,” Sophia said. “They didn’t name Kanye. I think that was a smart move to kind of not draw more attention to him.”

The song was one of the listed options on the Google Form that the seniors used for voting and was also played during the assembly. Perry said that no one had realized the potential problems with the song until after it was chosen. 

“I’m a new dad; I’m not connected to social media or anything,” Perry said. “We didn’t even think about it…I realized probably within the following days after the PSAT senior day. It was brought to my attention by a few students as well as faculty members.”

Edo was one of the students who encouraged Perry to have the song changed. 

“I felt very uncomfortable [when the song was chosen],” he said. “And I looked around, and I saw no one really reacted to this. I saw a few other Jewish people I knew in the audience, and they also had the same expression. We were all just kind of taken aback and it felt very isolating.”

Edo said that he immediately realized the problems with the song. 

“I basically told [Ms. Van Alphen], ‘Hey, we should talk about this, because this isn’t a great song to choose,’” Edo said. “My issue was this song being the representative of the senior class. It felt a bit alienating.”

Edo then followed up with Perry, and they decided that the song had to be changed. 

“There was talk among the students about not liking that decision,” Edo said. “I did check in with various administrators multiple times, to talk about not just what happened with the song, but also what the aftermath of this would be. I thought it was important that students understood why the song was being taken out, and why it’s a big deal.”

Ye rose to fame in 2004 with the release of his debut album, “The College Dropout,” and went on to win a Grammy in 2005. He has been open about living with bipolar disorder but psychologists have determined that the condition wouldn’t cause hate speech.

“If you’re putting [the song] as the face of the school you’re indirectly supporting the artist,” Cooper Costello (12) said. 

Jakob Schwirner (12) said he didn’t agree with the school’s decision. 

“I feel like we should not have really changed the song because I feel like there’s a certain degree where you can separate the art from the artist,” he said. “I feel like if they make good art but they’re a horrible person you can still listen to their music without following their beliefs.”

Perry said they considered both sides of the issue, but ultimately were left with no choice.

“It’s just not something that we support as a school or district, any type of hate speech towards any group that’s out there,” Perry said. “We just wanted to make sure that we were putting the right message out there and doing what was best for our students.”

Edo said it was important to him that a spoken announcement was made. 

“I pushed for that to happen originally,” he said. “I thought it was important for me as a Jewish person and for anyone Jewish or even not Jewish. I think just kind of understanding what the situation is and I think saying it front and center very clear on DP News was probably the best way possible to reach out.”