Fri, Apr 25, 2014 ●
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Letter: Cumberland high school culture needs attention

Opinion

Letter: Cumberland high school culture needs attention

I was not surprised when Greely basketball players posted photographs of themselves giving the Nazi salute.

There is something terribly wrong in the culture of a school when students behave this way; young people do not find their way to bullying and neo-Nazism alone. There is something wrong in a school where sustained hate speech is brushed off by the principal as “a mistake” and any repercussions concealed (I suspect that these student-athletes will only be benched for a game or two). The question should not be what the offending students learned, but what the entire student body learned from seeing this happen, seeing it come to the attention of the administration, and being asked to see it as a “learning experience” for all of them. When students subjugate someone who is different, because they are different, and then are protected by people in power, it provides a pungent lesson for students indeed.

I still remember intimidation, harassment and indifference perpetrated by faculty against students and by students against each other at Greely.

Since graduating Greely in 1998, I have made my career teaching at colleges and universities, so I know most teachers do their best to give students knowledge and morals, and that young people should be forgiven for many lapses in judgment. However, I believe strongly that this latest example of harassment is grounded in systemic oppression.

A culture that allows and promotes such disregard for others will not be upended by a single scheduled assembly.

Amy L. Clark
Jamaica Plain, Mass.