Students and administrators to recent bathroom incident

To combat the incident, the administration has paired up with the anti-defamation league in order to solve the problem at hand.

To combat the incident, the administration has paired up with the anti-defamation league in order to solve the problem at hand.

Kayla Hill, Staff Writer

At around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 17th, a student reported a swastika drawn on the wall of the boys’ bathroom on the first floor.  Later that day, the Port Washington Police arrived and a report was filed.

The administration immediately began their investigation, which included reviewing video surveillance and conducting a set of interviews with students who had been in the bathroom around the time of the report.

The administration stated that they will continue to explore ways to put an end to the defacement of school property and the proliferation of abject hate. Bathrooms and the stalls inside them are uniquely private spaces in our school, making them vulnerable to inappropriate behavior and the spreading of intolerance.

“Should we find the student(s) responsible for this action, that we will request an arrest,” said Principal Dr. Ira Pernick.

Faculty members are also exploring other systems to track student bathroom use to help in future investigations.

In the letter that went out to the parents of Schreiber students, Dr. Pernick urged the community to review the Resolution of Respect with their children once again.

“This is obviously upsetting.  A lot of these incidents occur specifically in bathroom stalls and mostly in private places.  In order for anyone to choose to produce a symbol of hate, it is more frequently in dark recesses because it is not part of our culture.  It would not be acceptable to be in front of school or in a public area,” said Principal Dr. Ira Pernick.

In the past, the School Board invited guest speakers to educate the student body on the severity of the reports.  Last year, the Anti-Defamation League came to speak to Schreiber about the hate symbols that were drawn in the bathroom.  However, despite the guest speaker, there were still two swastika incidents during the 2017-2018 school year. 

Many students viewed this attempt at annihilating these acts of hate as ineffective as many students did not take the speaker or the topics seriously.

“People draw swastikas in bathrooms and use hateful language because they feel targeted themselves.  It’s hard for them to face how they feel about themselves so they project onto others.  That’s why it’s important to unite when incidents like this happen. So those who are victims feel safe and the perpetrator knows that discrimination is not the only option” said junior Katie Winter.

After this more recent incident, the administration is worried as the number of parent responses to the matter has decreased significantly since last year.  The faculty does not want these occurrences to begin to be overlooked, and believes that people should take this matter very seriously. 

The administration is also planning on continuing to utilize the security cameras that were recently installed.  These are used to give a sense of who is entering or near the bathroom.  Still, they are aware of the difficulty that is presented when finding the balance between monitoring activities in the bathroom, such as the drawing of the swastika, and maintaining students’ privacy.

Administrators aren’t the only people getting involved after this event.  Many different clubs and school-based organizations are beginning to take more of an initiative at combating this issue of in-school hatred and insensitivity, one such group being Judaism Club. The club seeks members interested in getting more involved in fighting hate crime and spreading unity, and meets every Thursday at 3:15 p.m. in Room 221. 

Furthermore, especially with National Holocaust Remembrance Day and Equality Day coming up at the end of January, the Judaism Club had some ideas regarding not only unifying the school, but also reaffirming the seriousness of these anti-Semitic hate symbols.

 “It is disappointing and disturbing that our school is no longer a safe place for all.  Hate speech or symbols against any group should not be tolerated, and those responsible should admit to their wrongdoing,” said junior Adam Salzman.  “We, as a community, all share the responsibility to explain why this sort of action is completely inappropriate.”  

The administration has worked to combat this issue by utilizing the security cameras installed and exercising other anti-hatred attempts.  However, since it is difficult to know the specifics about the incident, the investigation is not being completed at its desired pace.