'Hate and disrespect not tolerated': SAU 16 condemns videos of white students using racial slur

·3 min read

EXETER — School officials are denouncing two videos recently shared around the school community, both showing white students "saying the N-word repeatedly and laughing."

Exeter High School Principal Michael Monahan along with SAU 16 Superintendent David Ryan and Andres Mejia, the school district's new director of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, released a video of their own Thursday night addressing the controversy.

Monahan said the videos have caused "great upset amongst many of our students and staff members." He said the videos that show students using "violent and derogatory language" were recently brought to their attention.

“Two separate incidents, two separate white students, saying the N-word repeatedly and laughing,” he said.

Ryan said that "this type of hate and disrespect will not be tolerated and has no place here."

School officials are denouncing two videos recently shared around the school community, both showing white students "saying the N-word repeatedly and laughing."
School officials are denouncing two videos recently shared around the school community, both showing white students "saying the N-word repeatedly and laughing."

"We know these types of acts have occurred in other SAUs, not only around the region but around the country," he said. "But we are not going to excuse it. We are very disheartened that it occurred here given the amount of work we have done so far and the amount of work that we have to do to ensure that everyone feels safe."

Ryan was referring to the school district's diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) initiatives.

SAU 16 became the first public school district in New Hampshire to hire a DEIJ director when Mejia was hired by the Exeter Region Cooperative School District in August.

At the time, Mejia said, "DEIJ is about making students feel and know that they belong so they don’t have to worry about being different, which will allow them to focus on their academics."

Diversity, equity, inclusion and justice: SAU 16 director explains what role is and isn't.

"This type of hate and disrespect will not be tolerated and has no place here," said SAU 16 Superintendent David Ryan.
"This type of hate and disrespect will not be tolerated and has no place here," said SAU 16 Superintendent David Ryan.

The three-minute video released by school officials Thursday comes one day after SAU 16 sent home a "letter of affirmation" to students, educators and caregivers.

Signed by the school administration team, the letter reiterates that "hate and disrespect" have no place and that "we are a community of acceptance."

"Whether you are Black, Transgender, Asian, Indigenous, Gay, Bisexual, Muslim, or of any identity- you belong in SAU 16," the letter stated. "We see and hear you. Your pronouns matter to us. The color of your skin matters to us. Your gender identity matters to us. All of your identities matter to us. Your life matters to us."

More: Exeter High denies student-athlete was benched for saying there are ‘only two genders.’

Ryan said in the video the letter was not in response to the two recent student videos.

"However, they are indicative on why we needed to send this letter out," Ryan said in the video.

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"We sent this out in response to the hate that we are seeing in our communities shared by students as they learn this hate through their hallway interactions, classroom interactions, and even out on the town."

The video ended with Mejia addressing the recent student videos.

"For our community members who might be offended or hurt because of these hurtful words, we are sorry," he said. "We are sorry that part of our community has failed in making sure all of us belong. Please hear us when we say 'we see you and we hear you. You are part of SAU 16 and should feel respected here.'"

Mejia said the schools have support systems in place for students and asked them to reach out to their "counselors, school social workers, your favorite teacher, that one mentor you trust," if you need support.

Administrators had previously announced that Mejia over the next couple of months will host student dialogues, provide workshops and hold community conversations focused on the values and principles of DEIJ.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: SAU 16 denounces videos of Exeter NH white students using racial slur

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