Dodd holds student assemblies addressing racist graffiti


Kurumi Sato

Principal Robert Dodd speaks at the assembly this morning. Last weekend, someone spray painted racist graffiti on school grounds.

By Taylor Haber

Principal Robert Dodd held separate assemblies for each grade during second and third periods today to address the racist graffiti that was discovered on Whitman school grounds over the weekend.

Dodd expanded on his previous description of the graffiti in his email to the community, explaining that the vandalism included language related to lynching. Dodd spoke of how this was not the first hate-related incident he’s had to deal with as principal.

“In the last 15 months, I’ve written four letters about racism,” he said during the assemblies. “Over the last year, we’ve taken intentional steps to combat hate, and to ensure that when incidents of hate and bias occur, that we never minimize them, we don’t laugh about them, we don’t equivocate, and we certainly don’t fail to address them.”

The assembly also centered around Whitman’s recent efforts to combat similar acts of intolerance, efforts like OneWhitman, a weekly class where students discuss issues of race and equity.

“I believe, and I need you to believe, that OneWhitman is the beginning of our counter narrative,” Dodd said during the assemblies. “It has nonetheless provided us with a forum to start conversations about race and racism that otherwise would not have occurred.”

Dodd also addressed the student body’s mixed reaction to OneWhitman; many students don’t fully participate in the discussions, and some skip OneWhitman periods altogether.

“It’s the responsibility of each of us to stand up and speak out against hate,” Dodd said. “We can each recommit ourselves to the work tomorrow, when we gather again to OneWhitman to reflect more fully on what incidents of racism and hate do to our school.”

Following the assemblies, students praised administration for being forthcoming about the incident. Junior Marlo Friedland said Dodd’s remarks were “informative,” and she welcomed the fact that “people know the severity of the occurrence,” she said.

Other students agreed, detailing how little information on the hate crime they had received before listening to Dodd’s address.

“[Dodd] told us more about what happened,” sophomore Caroline Faust said. “The language in the vandalism was a lot more violent than what he had first said it was. I already knew that it had been really bad, but it just makes it that much worse.”