HMHS students speak out about alleged racial slur incident

Although the student-athlete walkout did not come to fruition, several other students who did come out of the school expressed their thoughts on the allegation with the public.

Ruth Fernands and Grey Cooley speaking to the media about alleged incident

An alleged incident at Haddonfield Memorial High School on May 1 has rattled the community. On that day, a HMHS lacrosse player allegedly directed a racial slur at a black Sterling High School female track athlete. In response, the school district investigated the allegations, resulting in the remainder of the Haddonfield Memorial High School boys lacrosse season being cancelled.

Monday, media outlets lined up in front of the school in preparation for a HMHS student-athlete walkout scheduled for 1 p.m. Although the student-athlete walkout did not come to fruition, several other students who did come out of the school expressed their thoughts on the allegation with the public.

“I haven’t heard about the walk out until seeing the news crews,” HMHS senior Ruth Fernands said, when she walked up to the media gathered outside the high school.

Fernands said that although the issue is “complicated,” she believes that a “door has been opened” and she trusts the administration will handle the situation with appropriately. Frenands also said that bystanders contributed to the issue by not coming forward.

“What were the odds that that was the first time he made a comment…what are the odds that all of the people on the team didn’t say something beforehand because they thought nothing would happen?” Fernands said. “Bystanders have a role to play.”

Fernands hopes that the issue can be resolved and that this will be an opportunity for people to come together and change.

“We know what has been going on and we know there is not going to be a toleration for that anymore,” Fernands said.

Taylor Bee, a senior at HMHS, also spoke up saying that although the alleged incident does not reflect the values of the school as a whole, it is disappointing and should encourage people to take a closer close at the issue.

“Being more angry about the season being cancelled rather than the incident which led to this is ridiculous,” Bee said. “That kid wouldn’t have said that if he didnt feel like he was in an environment where he felt it was okay to say that.”

She said she would be “shocked” if the issue resolved itself anytime soon, but she remains hopeful that people can learn from this and be better because of it.

Senior Adianna Alston echoed Bee’s sentiments, saying this incident, as well as others, does not reflect the values of everyone at the school. However, Alston said “ignorance” is still present in certain individuals at HMHS.

“Even though this was the first time that something like this became so big, this isn’t the first time an incident like that has happened in Haddonfield,” Alston said.

Alston said she has witnessed people who are making it a priority to defend Haddonfield, while the alleged situation is being lost and dismissed.

Haddonfield Public Schools Interim Superintendent David Lindenmuth weighed in on the situation during the morning the walkout was scheduled, saying that the Board of Education investigated the alleged incident before acting.

“We did interviews of multiple people and we did have multiple students that were at the event corroborate this story,” Lindenmuth said.

Despite how “extremely concerning” the situation is, Lindemuth said that the alleged incident is not a reflection of the community. Lindenmuth also said that this situation is “troubling” to the district and the district wants to handle it in the best way possible to avoid recurrences.

“Haddonfield is a great community,” Lindemuth said. “This does not represent what our students are about.”