Schools Are Places for Students and Smarts, Not Swastikas

by Amanda Brauchler, Editor in Chief

Nov. 1, almost a month before Hanukkah, two students were reported to the office for hate speech. One student had drawn a swastika on her Starbucks cup, with flames drawn around the sides and the words, “I want death,” on the cup. The student sitting across from her took a whiteboard belonging to the school, and drew the Star of David with a swastika inside, writing “Burn them all.” This student’s peer filmed him doing this and put it on the RC Jags Snapchat story. This is not the only incident of this manner that the school has experienced this year. Almost three months earlier, in August, the language department found various forms of hate speech graffiti, including anti-semitic language, on the back of whiteboards.

A hate crime is defined by as: “A hate crime is a threat or act of intimidation, harassment, or physical force that is motivated by bias against a person or group based on their actual or perceived: Race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical or mental disability.”

In Colorado law, there are two types of charges for hate crime, “bias motivated harassment” and “bias motivated crime.” A bias motivated harassment is a class one misdemeanor. Examples of this type of crime would be when one “strikes/shoves/kicks/otherwise touches another, directs obscene language or makes obscene gesture in public, makes repeated insults/taunts/challenges likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response, etc,” according to Colorado Law. A bias motivated crime is a “misdemeanor (for threats or damage to property) or as a felony (for cases involving bodily injury),” according to Colorado Law.

Incidents like these are noticed often by students. Anti-semitic comments or jokes are shared in the hallways and classrooms. Students often draw swastikas on themselves, others, or different classroom materials like homework and whiteboards. This creates a negative work environment for students and an environment that tolerates this inappropriate behavior. By not acknowledging this issue, we’re allowing it to go unchecked and become acceptable in our learning environment.

The student body needs to realize that these actions have consequences and are noticed by the student body. We as a staff at the Rock believe that these actions are not acceptable and should be stopped. Small actions, like calling out the negative use of racial stereotypes in conversation. Making students aware that hate speech has consequences could halt hate in its tracks. It is unacceptable to continue to have students joke about committing mass genocide. It is unacceptable to have students feel like there are no consequences for writing or saying hateful speech. Rock Canyon needs to end this perpetual use of hateful rhetoric because it does not represent our beliefs and values as a student body.