Hate incidents prompt in-class discussions on respect


Principal Alan Goodwin discusses respect among students Sept. 29. Recent hate incidents prompted the discussion. Photo by Annabelle Gordon.

By Eric Neugeboren

Following two recent hate-related incidents, Principal Alan Goodwin and assistant principals Jerome Easton, Rainer Kulenkampff and Kristen Cody visited English classes to promote respect among students the past two weeks. Each visit consisted of a brief discussion about the importance of respect and addressed both incidents.

Two weeks ago, administrators disciplined a student for using the N-word toward another student, prompting a schoolwide announcement by Goodwin. The situation escalated when, in an unrelated event, another student made offensive comments toward a peer. In the wake of the two incidents, Goodwin sent an email through Whitnet Sept. 26.

Kulenkampff felt it necessary to promote kindness after the incidents, he said.

“It’s disappointing,” Kulenkampff said. “One time is too many but we hope that it can go away in the future.”

The administrators began by visiting freshman English classes Sept. 25 and visited more classes this past week. They plan to visit the other English classes this upcoming week.

Freshman Abby Chen said the presentation’s message warranted the discussions.

“The presentation was really deep and I think was effective in reaching people,” Chen said. “It’s just really important to remember to be nice.”

The incidents surprised English teacher Todd Michaels, but he commended administrators for being so quick to address the issue.

“I can’t imagine any kid I’ve ever met saying such racial epithets to one another,” Michaels said. “But I think it’s important for all of us to get this reminder so we can stand up to it. The difficult part is inserting ourselves into situations where we’re standing up for someone who we may not even know.”

Black Student Union president Christiana Turay credited administrators for their presentation, but is unsure how effective it will truly be, she said.

“I think they can only do so much to stop this from happening,” Turay said. “They can’t be with us all the time and control what we say. But they are doing their best, which is all they can do.”