The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Swastikas Show Up for the Third Time at Sidwell

Swastikas Show Up for the Third Time at Sidwell

Swastikas and racist usernames were projected on the screen at Sidwell Friends School (informally known as Sidwell) during a student-led assembly on Wednesday, March 6th.

Sidwell Friends School is a prestigious private school in Washington, DC that several of the former presidents’ children attended and former President Obama’s daughter, Sasha Obama, currently attends.

The incident happened during a presentation from an outside non-profit to the 500 high schoolers. The students used Kahoot, an anonymous online interactive quiz program that tests students on their knowledge of a subject. Kahoot allows students to answer on their phones which then gets projected onto the screen. Kahoot scores are based on how quickly the student answered and if they got the correct answer.

Bryan Garman, the head of school at Sidwell stated that “several of the usernames projected onto the screen were racist towards Asians and Native Americans; two usernames included swastikas.”

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A senior who participated in the game, told HuffPost, “Nobody saw the swastikas at first,” but once the student who had them in their username got two answers correct, they showed up onto the leaderboard and were in first place. This username consisted of only two swastikas.

Suzanna Jemsby, the head of school at Washington International School first heard about this from texts popping up on her phone from other heads of schools in the DC area.

“The whole thing was projected onto the screen, a couple of the user profiles used swastikas, as their profile faces, as a photograph or symbol, and a couple of students chose names that were insensitive to Native Americans and Asians,” Mrs. Jemsby said.

Another senior at Sidwell told HuffPost, that for the students who did this, they must have gone out of their way to find the swastika symbols and copy and paste them into their usernames.

As soon as the assistant dean of students saw the symbols, he signaled to the presenters to turn off the projector and end the presentation. Garman sent an email out to the parents later that night, to inform them of the incident and how the school was handling it.

Sidwell is currently trying to identify the students responsible for the swastikas as well as the racial comments.

Garman went on to say in an email that “racism and anti-semitism will not be tolerated in this community, […] we will be in touch as we process this matter and develop appropriate programs to address it.”

The school has dealt with issues similar to this in the past; there have been three incidents regarding swastikas this year. Mrs. Jemsby thinks that if this was the third incident, then there is a more systemic problem at the school.

According to HuffPost, this is the third incident regarding swastikas on campus. Earlier this year, a swastika was drawn on a whiteboard earlier this year. Other swastikas were drawn into the benches in the “Meeting for Worship” room where students are encouraged to share their thoughts to the school community.

“I am disappointed, dismayed, and deeply sorry that such an incident could take place at our school,” Garman said.

According to the email, the incident has greatly affected the school community. Sidwell is currently looking into how to address this incident and how to better prevent similar incidents in the future.

By Emily Muenzer

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