No Place for Hate takes aim at intolerance

Grace Friedberg

This year, WHS has joined the No Place for Hate program, created by the Anti-Defamation League, aimed at combating issues such as anti-Semitism, racism, bias, bullying and hate in general. The ADL developed No Place for Hate to ensure that schools across the country have the opportunity to get involved in the prevention of bias and bullying as a means to stop the increase of hate within their schools and communities.

The program will provide representatives from the ADL to assist the  participating schools with training for educators and students on the committee. The committee at WHS is comprised of 20 students and is still open to anyone who is interested in joining.

In a recent interview, senior Ana Fowler, a member of the No Place for Hate committee at WHS, discussed her reasoning for taking part in the program. “I joined the committee because I want to create a welcoming and hate-free environment at WHS,” said Fowler.

Fowler continued to address her observations as a student at WHS. “I know we think that prejudices and hate don’t exist anymore, but unfortunately this is not our reality,” said Fowler. “There is a lot of tolerance and inclusivity in Westfield with the many clubs at this school, but there is also an ingrained ignorance within some of our students.”

On Nov. 19, WHS will be hosting an assembly for all students and faculty featuring guest speaker Detective David D’Amico, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, to get the school acclimated with the ADL and No Place for Hate. This assembly will cover issues including bias and bullying. D’Amico will be discussing the severe consequences of anti-Semitic acts as well as the consequences of other types of hate crimes.

After the assembly, there will be discussion groups that will give every student the chance to talk and reflect on the presentation given by D’Amico. These discussion groups will meet during all social studies classes throughout the day.

History Teacher and Co-Coordinator for the No Place for Hate committee at WHS Kimberly Leegan said, “The idea [of this assembly] is to create an atmosphere that shows we are not a place that will tolerate hate or prejudice.”

On Nov. 22, all students will be asked, but not required, to sign a “pledge against hate” as a part of the No Place for Hate program. With six components to the pledge, it essentially states that WHS is willing to work together as a school community to fight against hate, bias and prejudice.

“By pledging non-hate and attending the assemblies we have planned, students can grow and understand others through an unbiased lens,” said Fowler.

With the continuation of WHS’ involvement with the ADL, Assistant Principal and Co-Coordinator of the No Place for Hate program Warren Hynes said, “On Nov. 27 there will be a training session where the ADL is going to come to WHS for three hours. The committee members will be up in the multipurpose room going through what the rest of the year is going to be like.”

Future assemblies and other activities are in the process of being scheduled. The No Place for Hate committee at WHS is working hard to create an environment where hate and bullying no longer exist.