by Jacob Sims Speyer
City officials, community leaders, students and faculty, and residents of Newton met to discuss the recent acts of hate speech within Newton Public Schools and how to prevent future acts from occurring in a town-hall style meeting, which was overflowing with attendants, last night at City Hall.
Many of the speakers emphasized that the best way to prevent future acts of hate speech from occurring is to give students the ability to take action.
According to Superintendent David Fleishman, “We have to let students know that this behavior is intolerable, and also educate them on how it impacts others. We can do this in a number of ways; we can do this through course work, we can do it through literature, we can do it through seminars, but the one important thing we do is we give a voice to the students.”
Other residents, some of whom were protesting at the back of the hall, expressed dismay at Fleishman’s comments, arguing that the meeting should focus solely on addressing anti-Semitic behavior.
Numerous attendees also criticized both Fleishman and Mayor Setti Warren for what one activist called “a total lack of accountability” regarding a timely response and appropriate consequences to the anti-Semitism.
As the meeting drew to a close due to time constraints, Warren said that “We’re not going solve it in one night, and we’re not going to solve it in a month, and we’re not going to solve it in a year. What we can do is listen to other people’s perspectives and try to make the climate better for everyone.”