Response to Hate Crimes- A Student Perspective

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Franklin is taking steps to become a No Place For Hate school.

As the start of the ’21-’22 school year kicked off with the return of fully in-person classes, it has also brought many disruptive challenges: hate crimes, discriminatory actions, and destructive behaviors. To combat these harmful actions, the administration has partnered with many students to form an organization called “No Place for Hate,” collecting signatures to declare Franklin High School as intolerant to any form of hate.

The recent Tik Tok trend ‘devious licks’ has motivated the vandalism of many FHS boys’ bathrooms. (Bella DeCrescenzo)

We interviewed two members of ADL’s ‘No Place for Hate,’ Lily Eattimo and Nihara Lijan, in order to receive more information about the goals of this organization.

Q: “For the student body, what is the purpose of No Place for Hate?”

Lily: “I think right now, its purpose is more for creating a basis and foundation for people to recognize that we need change and there are people that want to change. Establishing that is a lot of what we are missing right now and then, later on, it will be a place for people to go and actually create change and fight against whatever they need to fight against.” 

Q: “In your own words, can you explain the goals of No Place for Hate here in the Franklin community?”

Nihara: “I think its goals are to create a very inclusive place as I feel like this organization is becoming a lot more serious with a lot of staff and the superintendent becoming a part of the meetings. I also feel like one of the big things that we’ve been talking about is having just one place or one club designated to get your feelings out or get your emotions out […] Also, another goal is to have assemblies and [… ] reeducate people on those things that they have forgotten.”

Q: “How is No Place for Hate working with other clubs and organizations within FHS to achieve this welcoming community?”

Nihara: “We are planning to work with A World Of Difference, but we’re also planning to work with Diversity Awareness and potentially SAGA as well. We want to form a big group where, for example, Diversity Awareness can be in charge of some subcommittees and the other groups can take different subcommittees since these groups all have similar goals.”

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Q: “If we continue with the plan of signatures, do you think that FHS would be accurately depicted as a place free of hate?”

Lily: “Honestly, no, because I think that, especially recently, just seeing petitions or just signing your name comes off as performative activism, or you see people who sign petitions, but then never do anything afterward. I think that even if we were to get the large amount of signatures that we need to get, I don’t know if everything would actually be changed; I don’t think that signatures are our big issue here that we should be focusing on.”

Q: “Do you feel that this committee will be an effective way to respond and handle the recent events at FHS? Why?”

Lily: “I think it kind of depends on what we decide to do. I know that right now, we were going to be focused on getting signatures, but I don’t know if that’s still the plan for us. It really depends because there are a lot of different things that we have been trying to focus on, and it’s hard to find one area to specify in.”

Q: “Personally, what do you hope that No Place For Hate will accomplish?”

Lily: “I hope that it creates a place where we can all talk to each other that is very open and welcoming even when we may not hear everything. We have teacher and student perspectives, so we can hopefully talk through that and be able to see both sides.”

Q: “What are your thoughts on the assemblies coordinated with No Place for Hate? In your opinion, is holding an assembly too little, good, or too much in terms of educating?”

Image via Google under Creative Commons License

Lily: “I think it’s better than nothing, because recently I think that we’ve been getting kind of more of the same, which is not very effective. Like through email, I’m not sure how many people even check their email, but I think it’s better than nothing. I’m hopeful that it’s something, but I don’t think it’s gonna immediately solve anything or be a big factor.”

Q: “What further steps do you personally think should be taken in terms of addressing discrimination within Franklin High?”

Nihara: “I think the assemblies are doing a good job with addressing these issues; I just feel like we should have more frequent assemblies. I also think that immediate coverage of everything that happens is important because I feel like sometimes it’s kind of neglected and not addressed, or not addressed enough.”

Q: “Do you think that No Place For Hate, in case of future incidents, should respond with punishments, education, and reflections, or both?”

Lily: “I think both- definitely in what I’ve been seeing, there is not enough education. I remember yesterday when [Mr. Hanna and the No Place for Hate committee] were talking about how the school deals with racial issues, they were talking about the typical way to discipline a student, just giving them a suspension and then letting them back in. I think there should be more focus on education and learning through it and being able to grow through it because it doesn’t solve the problem, just putting a suspension on someone’s record. I think that’s the whole issue; we’re not listening to each other, and we’re not understanding each other because we don’t have the time, and we don’t want to.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons License

Nihara: I feel like if something happens, I think that immediate coverage should be taking place. But also, depending on the extent of the action, suspension might be necessary, especially if the action is repetitive. If something is happening multiple times and you’re still not learning, I feel like large disciplinary actions are necessary.”

As the administration has been trying to figure out how to Handle Hate at Franklin High School, they have been struggling to address these problems independently. But, overall, implementing ADL’s ‘No Place for Hate’ initiative seems to be the administration’s attempt to bridge the gap between teachers and students and work together to achieve a more safe and inclusive environment.