Compromised Campus Culture Needs More Attention

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Compromised Campus Culture Needs More Attention

Jessica Rosiak and Amanda Young

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The administration believes “education” is the only way to combat growing hate speech on campus.

I don’t agree.

This year there have been numerous acts of racism documented at Campolindo, from memes online to notes in class.  Considering how much goes unreported, this is surely just the tip of the iceberg.

According to sophomore Matai Bell, many acts of racism and hate speech are not brought to the administration’s attention “because [the students] can only make matters worse for them[selves].”

Sophomore Amia Bonilla, the president of the Black Student Union, agreed. “I’ve literally gotten comments like people saying they’re going to kill all black people, [but] I’m not going to go to [principal John] Walker, because then he’s probably going to have an assembly about it and use my name, which then would be a big thing,” she said.

Whenever these incidents do occur and are reported, the administration’s response is always the same: punishments are taken from the student handbook, which is mandated by the Acalanes Union High School District board, and prevention methods fall along the lines of “more education.”

Vice principal Jon Drury, who is in charge of student discipline, said that he doesn’t “know if there is a growing number of racist acts,” but admitted to “incidents of bullying here at Campolindo,” and that the administration takes “them all seriously.”

“All of our staff is also attending Beyond Diversity and Beyond Diversity II, which are intense, multiple day training for staff so that we can make sure all students feel included, welcome, and also safe that they can come forward and share incidents that are inappropriate, unpleasant, or shouldn’t be here around our community,” Drury explained.

It apparently did not include taking action against the “Nein Juden” (Translated: No Jews in German) that was written on 1 of the doors of the stadium concession stand in November of 2018.  The racist graffiti was reportedly not removed until late March of 2019 after its discovery even though community members filed a complaint as stated by an anonymous source.

I’ll admit this issue is a personal one. A little over a year ago, a close family friend of mine named Blaze Bernstein was stabbed multiple times after coming home for the holidays from the University of Pennsylvania. He got in a car with what he thought was a friend and after 6 days of being missing was found hidden in a shallow grave by police.

Sam Woodward, who Blaze went to high school with, now stands trial for committing a hate crime murder. Bernstein was both Jewish and gay, and Woodward had a plethora of antisemitic and homophobic content on his phone and was called “troubled” by fellow students. Woodward was also connected to a Neo-Nazi group in Southern California.

These same hateful sentiments are undeniably shared by members of our campus and community, and that is cause for concern.

After a racist note was found in Bell’s notebook in his Intro to Psych class earlier this semester, principal John Walker came to speak to every class regarding how it was an offensive act and there would be consequences. Intro to Psych and AP Euro teacher Ryan Boyd followed up Walker’s lecture with a few activities, trying to address how safe students feel at school.

Last year, a group of then-juniors created an Instagram account with sexist, homophobic, racist, and overall offensive memes, and this year, there were racist images and accusations of rape circulated by current sophomores on Snapchat.

Campolindo is situated in what many consider to be an upper-middle-class neighborhood where several of the most highly respected schools in California are located. The town is a small and close knit. The socioeconomics is similar to that of Orange County, CA.

This doesn’t mean, however,  that our community is somehow immune to hate.

A post on NextDoor showed teenagers dropping watermelons off on doorsteps of families of minorities. An anonymous source stated that students recently held a party in the Moraga Country Club neighborhood, where shouts of the “n-word” could be heard throughout the night.

What is happening in our community is a sobering microcosm of what is happening across the country, and it must be quickly and effectively shut down.

The administration must take more effective steps if they wish to make Campolindo a safe environment in the coming years and not another statistic or viral meme.  How is the 2019/2020 year going to be different than what we experienced in 2018/2019?

The current efforts at “education” and “reflection” are not working.

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