Sparing the details of a bunch of kids doing something horrific, then doing something stupid by posting it online, the most important statement is this:

This is an opportunity that can and should be seized.

Sandy Asper said it first, in a recent e-mail to the Newport-Mesa Community for Students.

Her e-mail read, in part:

“Make the week of 3/11-3/18 The Week of Responsibility or something like that….

  1. Show Schindler’s List to all students and parents…perhaps at a local theater. (it’s on You Tube and others for $4,00)
  2. Invite Holocaust survivors to speak…Eva Schloss 88 is speaking at Chapman March 6th
  3. The event at Chapman

  1. Writing, Art, Drama things that can be done without adding to the teacher’s workload.”

Great stuff.

What we have gotten from the district so far is, for the most part, the usual outrage. One notable exception is the statement from the superintendent, whose statement went further along than those that have addressed past scandals, but still did not take the final step.

The quotes from the two trustees I read were good – further than I would have expected –  but they did not go far enough.

Everyone expressed outrage and/or mentioned discipline. There were a few words about how much discipline could take place because the party was off campus and maybe some of the participants were graduates, etc.

It was not enough.

Asper nailed it. Yes, it’s a problem, but it’s also an opportunity. Today, when more people are discovering their inner hater (not me talking – stats support it) and, worse, have fewer qualms about expressing it, there needs to be a plan.

What we’re getting, however, is containment.

I pay no attention to the talk from the district. Talk is cheap and this is, to me, just more language that supports sweeping stuff under the rug. ‘Oh, it’s horrible and we do not tolerate this and we want to create a positive environment and we’ll get to the bottom of this and blah, blah, blah.

It’s as though you could take the district statements the prom draft, insert swastikas, or anti-semitism or whatever and voila! you have your statement.

When they start to follow Asper’s lead and commit to a long-term anti-hate program, I will know we have made progress.

Beyond that, there needs to be some discussion about the social media aspect. I would like to know what that person was thinking when the decision was made to tell the world about it. Was it to be cool? Was it to support and promote hate? What did they think was going to happen? What else is out there that we should know about???

Haters on our campuses are here. They have been and they always will be. The difference today is that social media has upped the game. Had this same incident occurred 15 years ago, the distribution of the images would be slower and the audience much smaller.

Today, however, anyone can broadcast anything to the world in minutes.

Trying to end hate on our campuses is futile and realistic expectations must be set. Please do not misunderstand, the statements from Trustees Metoyer and Fluor are commendable, but unless some action is taken – something permanent and meaningful beyond the discipline – this will be a wasted opportunity.

We’ll see what they do. Or don’t do.

Steve Smith