Mill Valley Middle School (MVMS) experienced an outbreak of anti-semitic and racist actions among a small group of students in the eighth grade class On March 1. “They drew swastikas, TRUMP, KKK, or White Power on [other kid’s] cheeks or hands, wrists, arms,” according to a letter sent out to MVMS parents by Principal Anna Lazzarini, Assistant Principal Mark Nelson, and Dean Rich Salvatto.
According to Nelson, all students that participated in this incident have been referred to the MVMS restorative justice system, and the school also had a Holocaust survivor come in to speak to students. “Our primary response was to educate the kids,” Nelson said. “Our mission is to keep everyone welcome and safe.”
Matt, a jewish eighth grader at MVMS who requested anonymity, explained what he thinks the motive behind this hate speech was. “Kids don’t really understand…the gravity of what they’re saying, and they’re not actually racist, they don’t actually hate jews…they’re just doing it for shock value,” he said. “They don’t really understand how much hate is involved in these symbols and words.”
The email sent out made it clear that hate speech is intolerable on the MVMS campus, and encouraged students to stand up for others when derogatory language is being used. Put simply by Nelson, “We accept love, we reject hate.”
Matt advises that students are more considerate with their humor. “Yeah jokes are funny and all but you can’t joke about six million people dying, just think before you do these things: Are you crossing that line or is this an okay thing?” he said.