Students from Elder, St. X discuss racial taunting incident
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Students from Elder High School and St. Xavier High School broke bread on Monday to try to get past an ugly incident of racial and ethnic taunting during a basketball game.
The incident occurred at Elder, although Monday's meeting was at St. X.
The meeting did not include the two St. X students who were the targets of the taunting, but it did include student opinion leaders from both schools and an apology from Elder.
“Our students know that what happened is not right,” said Elder Principal Kurt Ruffling.
What happened late January at the Elder/St. X basketball game, which was played at Elder, is that the Elder student cheering section directed racial and anti-Asian taunts at a couple of St. X players.
On Monday, at St. X, about 35 students from the two schools met to discuss the incident and what can be done to prevent a repeat.
“Be strong enough and have the heart and courage to stand up and say to the guy next to you knock it off,” said Principal Ruffling.
“We try to create men for others and that takes courage. You've got to stand up and be courageous at times and have these difficult conversations,” said St. Xavier’s Principal Terry Tyrrell.
The student meeting was closed to reporters. The principals from both schools said it went well.
“I was wondering was it going to be awkward and uncomfortable. This is a messy situation but kids tend to be resilient and right away the moved into life,” said Principal Tyrrell.
“And I think it's important that the guys understand how something they did affected so many people in so many ways,” said Principal Ruffling.
Elder is already changing. The first row of seats, for example, which sit behind the visitor’s bench are facing new restrictions.
“From now on, the very first row will be no students other than approved cheerleaders,” said Principal Ruffling.
Students doing unapproved cheers will be tossed out. Some students have already been disciplined over the incident, but no specifics were offered.
The hope is new codes of conduct, cheer policies, and understanding of each other will come out of all of the embarrassment.
“Unfortunate as it is, I look at this as a growth experience that maybe we can help society with this,” said Principal Ruffling.
Just by coincidence, a meeting is scheduled next week for all Catholic school principals in the archdiocese. This incident will be added to the agenda, along with steps to increase understanding and keep crowd behavior in line.
The St. Xavier principal put it this way: They’re willing to forgive, but they're not willing to tolerate this kind of behavior.
About seven percent of the students at Elder are minorities. St. X has around double that.