Morales Holds Impromptu Assembly, Addresses Hate Speech


Photo by The Sage Editors

Principal Cesar Morales addresses the problem of hate speech to the entire campus. Every Sage Creek student, teacher and staff member was present to hear what Morales had to say.

Madison Young, Kylie Valency, Sophia Parks, Madisyn Gorelitz and Brady Caskey all contributed reporting for this article.

In an impromptu assembly yesterday during third period, Principal César Morales addressed multiple instances of hate speech within the SCHS community and implored students to speak out and stand up against hate on campus.

At the annual Club Rush event on Wednesday, there were reported incidences of hate speech and disdainful actions used to target clubs, specifically minority groups on the SCHS campus. Throughout the assembly, Morales addressed what happened during ASB’s Instagram livestream the day before, in bathrooms and on club sign-up sheets.

“I will call you on it when you cross the line… We are in this thing together. Just know, there is no place for hate on this campus,” Morales said.

I will call you on it when you cross the line… We are in this thing together. Just know, there is no place for hate on this campus”

— Principal Morales

The livestream was recorded the day before during Club Rush, an event that lets clubs advertise to the student body and potentially gain more members. In the livestream, it passed by posters and tables to feature the clubs. Senior class president Mary Feldmann explained that a fellow ASB student was running the livestream when students started commenting inappropriate things.

“As [the student] passed by certain clubs, Black Student Union for example, there were racial slurs that were commented on the Instagram livestream,” Feldman said.

The president of the Black Student Union, Destini Perkins, described an ‘invincible’ attitude that students have, where they don’t think they are going to get caught when there is anonymity in their actions, like on social media. Perkins said the assembly was a good chance for staff to address what happened but expressed doubt about the impact.

Photo by The Sage Editors
Gay Straight Alliance (G.S.A) Advisor Sarah Hunter showcasing her badge promoting the club. G.S.A was affected by the Club Rush incidents. Students reportedly wrote names of people who did not wish to be signed up. “What I personally observed … was students using the GSA signup sheet as a way to prank other people,” Hunter explained in an interview.

“Kids need to actually take [this seriously to] acknowledge this and actually put an action to this,” Perkins said.

However, this was not the first time this has happened. G.S.A. advisor and English teacher Sarah Hunter said there have been issues in the past with students using  “derogatory slurs,” resulting in her being asked to supervise the G.S.A. table this year.

“I think that it sends a really powerful message to a student just a foot away from you on the other side of the table that, ‘you are less than me,’ or ‘you are here for my entertainment,’ or ‘I don’t respect who you are,’” Hunter said.  

She became distraught at the idea that the club she and the members are running is being thought of as a joke. G.S.A. club president and SCHS senior Tass Tassinari was at the table on Wednesday and has experienced similar slights from fellow students in the past.

“I’m glad [administration] addressed it,” Tassinari said, “[The problem] has gone unaddressed in the past and nothing has happened.”

AVID teacher Aida Salah led a discussion in her room shortly after the assembly where students talked about discrimination they faced in the past and expressed fear of the possible ineffectiveness of the assembly and for jokes that could be made about hate crimes.

“My message is like, I guess that I wish that students could try to understand what it’s like for other students on this campus that are different than them and think twice before they make jokes,” Salah said.

Salah referenced last year’s assembly and lesson regarding microaggressions. She pointed out that the topic was taken as a joke and disregarded by students. 

Officer Kam Valentine gave the topic a serious air at the assembly on Thursday when he warned students about the legal repercussions to those who commit hate crimes, such as up to one year in prison, fines and/ or extensive community service. Valentine also touched on his first hand, personal experience with hate crimes.

“I got chased by skinheads. I have been attacked by White Supremacist, White Nationalist… it is not [a] great feeling,” Valentine said.

Coming from a different perspective, sophomore Jackie Tucker, who attended the assembly, was worried about the impact it can have on the reputation of the school as a whole. 

It’s a very serious issue, and we don’t want to be known for something like this that happens”

— Jackie Tucker

“I mean, it’s a very serious issue, and we don’t want to be known for something like this that happens, so whatever has to be done should be done,” Tucker said.

Other instances were brought to the attention of Principal Morales and the rest of the administrative team such as racial slurs written on the bathroom walls. Vice principal Jesse Schuveiller is working on stopping the problem from the source immediately and effectively.

Photo Taken From @schsassasins
The assembly was addressed on the Senior Assassins Instagram story. They reminded followers to be respectful to each other inside and outside of the game. Runners of the page recalled the main purpose of the game: to bring students closer together.

“We’re trying to send the message clearly that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and not tolerated at Sage Creek,” Schuveiller said.

Schuveiller, Morales and the rest of the administrative team and teachers are promoting that SCHS is a safe space that is inclusive to everyone. Counselor Christine DiBenedetto, along with all other counselors, were present at the assembly and are involved to help make all students feel inclusive to the community.

“[This event] probably brought up a lot of emotions… different emotions for different people…  It is really important that we can take that into consideration, as human beings, when we make comments or do things that are inappropriate,” DiBenedetto said.

The counselors are available for anybody who is having a tough time or just wants to talk. Salah, an AVID teacher, works closely with kids who were affected and shines a light on what they are going through.

“[Students] are here to learn so, when things like this happen, it does make it more difficult to learn and focus in your classes,” Salah said.

As a community, the administration, staff and students are thriving to create a better environment that is accepting of everyone. Morales pointed out that change on campus has to be a communal effort.

“We have 1320 kids, right? And, it could very well be five kiddos that are doing this behavior, but it’s going to take the other 1315 to make sure that we bring that to an end,” Morales said.