By Samuel Bennett-Bywood

Edited by Lana Markulin

This isn’t how first days at school are meant to go. Sharpie in hand, sitting on the shoulders of my friend, I found myself “fenestrating” (turning something into a window) a swastika on the BAC’ 2013 poster. Upon the revelation that this symbol of hate was smeared using black acrylic paint, I was shocked to realise it has likely been there, for all to see, for almost 10 years now. 

After doing a bit of research, I stumbled upon an early edition of the Pupil’s Voice in which there was already an article created by Ioana Hárátau that was published in early January last year, highlighting the very same vandalism and neo-Nazi iconography that we have, sadly, had to cope with and adjust to. She warns the reader of the rise in “alt-right groups” and “anti-human rights propaganda” in school and elsewhere, which is designed to target impressionably young minds, making our school environment a perfect hunting ground for this hate speech. Understandably, students and teachers alike were shocked by this, and many brought it to the attention of the administration. They have acknowledged it but, despite the outcry, have done nothing about it. 

This begs the question: how has our school gone 10 years with Nazi imagery, slogans, and acronyms plastering the murals, decorating the toilet stalls, much unwanted artistic features under the desks in the science classrooms? Do they deem this acceptable, or do they simply not care? Even though they have numerous, and not to mention talented, art students who would be more than happy to use their creativity to drown it out, their good will should be more than enough motivation to act.

Illustration by Lazaros Tsenekidis

However, I have little faith that those in charge, upon reading this article, will suddenly do something about it. Instead, I fear this article will just be added to the list of times someone has tried to enact change in this school, and has been ignored. 

The school has brought up the issue of vandalism, but they addressed it far later than they should have. On top of that, they did not talk about the issues surrounding the use of swastikas. This leads me to believe that the school cares more about property than the bigger issue of discrimination.

Consequently, the school called a meeting with all the boys to talk about the vandalism. The fundamental issue here is that, by labeling it a gender issue, you are insinuating that this is an issue only boys can create. Those in charge should have seen this as a learning experience for all, not just boys. It is ultimately pointless to make only one gender attend this assembly because the teachers cannot teach when half of their class is missing. Many teachers are outraged by this, and with reason. Additionally, by making this a gender issue, it could make it seem “cool” and “rebellious” to those who are committing said vandalism: as most people with neo-Nazi tendencies tend to also, surprisingly enough, be misogynists! As a result, this adds more fuel to the fire and creates more problems than there were originally. (Shocker!) 

As Martin Luther King Jr wrote in a letter from jail: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” So, I urge you, reader, brandish your permanent marker with pride, rally your classmates, climb on their shoulders, and write your favorite song lyrics, football players’ names, poems, or physics formulae over the antisemitism. Let us (quite literally) take matters into our own hands and cure our school of the 10-year plague once and for all! 

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