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Checks & Balances: Hate Crime Conclusion

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

The Vancouver school board has confirmed that the Lord Byng Secondary School student, who created the racist video last November, will not be returning for the remainder of the school year.  They have not confirmed the official reason or who’s decision it was (the school board’s or the student’s), but at least the students he effected can feel safe from a student who claimed he wanted to kill black people with an explosive.

Unfortunately, this incident ended not only with the perpetrator leaving the school, but the student who made the school aware of the hate crime as well. After feeling the school did not initially take the matter seriously enough, provide proper support or resolution, she could no longer rely on them and took matters into her own hands. Others are still feeling the effects of what the school board confirmed was a hate crime, but continue to push administrators to make improvements. Some parents and community members feel there should be some accountability for this and prior racist incidents, even calling for the principal’s resignation.

While initially, the incident was supposed to result in a mere 3-day suspension, similar to the last racist incident, the principal eventually brought in other administrators, the school board and outside consultants. Upon student requests, he approved two assemblies and brought in a speaker from Black Lives Matter Vancouver, for one of them, to try and help the situation. Some students however, felt they didn’t deal enough with the incident at hand, resolution or healing.

The Vancouver School Board has policies in place regarding racism; however, they acknowledge there is more work to be done and being open to improvement is a good first step. They have committed to initiating a committee, to deal with racism in schools, that would include members of the Black community and have also mentioned a committee that would involve students; however, no date or timeline has been provided as to when these committees will be initiated or when potential members would be invited to apply.

In the meantime, several organizations and supporters of the Black community continue to rally together in an effort to ensure policy is improved and to hold schools accountable to their promises. Another meeting is scheduled for early next month.

Hopefully all of this time and effort will result in some much needed change and sooner, rather than later. These types of incidents need to be taken more seriously if students are to feel safe in their schools. There is no room to minimize issues such as racism, bullying, cyber-bullying and more, that youth today are suffering through and literally killing themselves over. Policies and procedures can be checked off, but as long as students are still enduring these things, they are left hanging in the balance.

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