Chambersburg Area School District (CASHS) has become the subject of widespread attention because of its decision to cancel and forfeit a high school football game due to an anonymous threat of violence on social media preceding the game on Sept. 15. While threats of this nature are nothing new for high schools, what has drawn so much attention to this case in particular is the perception of racial tensions at the school. Yet another reminder that our community is just as susceptible to these problems as anywhere else in the country.
During the weeks leading up to the game cancellation, CASHS was the site of a series of fights which were motivated either by race or bullying, according to PennLive.com. While school officials have denied the notion that there are pervasive racial issues at CASHS, many in the district have told news outlets otherwise. And despite the school’s position, Chambersburg Police Sergeant William C. Slaton still felt it necessary to notify The Anti-Defamation League and The Governor’s Commission on African-American Affairs about issues at the school, according to PennLive.com.
It is important to note that no connection has been established between the threat of violence posted on Sept. 15 and the racially motivated fights that preceded it. But — the fact of the matter is — despite the sentiments of school officials, those in charge felt racial tensions at the school were enough of a problem to cancel the game in the first place.
While we do not support giving in to unsubstantiated threats like this one by suspending every-day activities, we also realize the tough position the school was in regarding this matter. Most likely, nothing would have happened. But, without all the details at their disposal, the school made the safe call.
How can you blame them? This last year has been marked by story after story of hate speech and discrimination based on race, religion, sexuality or otherwise. It is understandable that CASHS did not want to risk a potential high-profile incident that papers larger than ours would be then using as a case study. What does bother us is their failure to acknowledge racial problems at the school, and those in the community who want to place blame for these matters solely in the hands of institutions.
It has been easy for some to write racial tensions off as a problem that could not happen this close to home. The fact is, it can. Yes, we can place blame on the president and other elected officials for the perceived rise in overt racism. But we as individuals need to start listening to one another and acknowledging the problems we have.
That is why we are pleading with everyone in our community not succumb to hate. There will always be people that try to capitalize on our insecurities to suit their agenda. The only way we fight back is by not giving them their way. Just remember, violence is a direct successor to hateful rhetoric. In the end, the responsibility is ours alone.