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Tolerance discussions continue after racist graffiti

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Students met with administrators on Thursday, August 24, to discuss tolerance and acceptance at RBHS after racist graffiti was found in a student bathroom.

On August 24, 2017, there was a student discussion before school in the Lehotsky Room with administrators Dave Mannon and Kylie Lindquist.The administrators focused the meeting on how students felt about racist graffiti found in a student bathroom on August 21, 2017.

Mannon prefaced the conversation with a summary of the 2017-18 school year goals.

“The focus this year is increasing our cultural awareness in this building and accepting of others beliefs and things like that,” Mannon said. “We are not going to go down the same road we went down last year. We are absolutely not going to do that. That’s why we’re going to jump out in front of this thing this year and be really vocal and transparent about it.”

An email addressing the graffiti was sent out to students and parents the day the graffiti was found, and Mannon read a statement on the student announcements the following day, August 22.

“It’s one person trying to be a distraction in this building. It’s not the belief, it’s not the thought  of 99.9% of the students in this building. It’s not the culture of this building either. We don’t have students that are going to do that,” Mannon said.

Last year, a similar occurrence happened in which racist graffiti found in a student bathroom led to student protests. This year, students are working with administration more to ensure that acceptance is promoted in RBHS.

“I think it’s really great that it was addressed immediately this year. I think a lot of people right now feel like they have an excuse to be hateful towards people because of the way our country is and the way some people act in our society. I think that our school needs to counteract that a lot, very blatantly,” said senior Casey Whisler, who was in attendance at last Thursday’s meeting.

Students and administrators brainstormed ideas together to emphasize that Riverside Brookfield High School is an open-minded and unprejudiced environment. The following ideas were shared out during the meeting: lunch meetings with student activity leaders, putting up Hate Has No Home Here signs, discussing discrimination in student assemblies, a film festival or writing week, and celebrating International Day of Tolerance on November 16th.

The administration is currently working on bringing a challenge day to RBHS to teach students to be tolerance leaders. Senior Kaitlin Gaynor attended a similar leadership training camp at Illinois Wesleyan University this summer.

“It was very eye-opening to see where other people are coming from or what other people are going through and then to see the similarities between everyone. You think you are alone but you’re not,” Gaynor said.

Meetings about tolerance and understanding will continue throughout the school year.

“While we want to provide a voice for everyone and to hear everyone’s thoughts, concerns… there are certain things that we’re just not going to allow and that blatant disrespect for other cultures, traditions, and racism, or hatred [is one of them].” Mannon said.

 

The following Clarion reporters contributed to the research and construction of this article: Azucena Gama, Gabrielle Tarrant, Olivia Rogoz, and Szymon Stoklosa.

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Tolerance discussions continue after racist graffiti