Divine Savior Holy Angels students stage walkout after video surfaces of white students using racial slur

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Dozens of students at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School walked out of class Thursday, Feb. 25, to demand action and change from the administration following the surfacing of a video in which two white students are heard calling a person of color the n-word.

The date of origin of the video is unclear, but it surfaced earlier this month. DSHA released a statement on Feb. 17 in which it said it investigated the issue and disciplinary steps were taken. The specifics of the incident were not made public in order to protect the privacy of the students involved, who are minors.

But students who organized the walkout at the school said they were not satisfied with the administration’s statement and wanted more change. They see this incident as the latest episode in a long history of racist issues at the school, followed by what they see as a lack of action by DSHA.

“Quite frankly this is something that has happened a lot in the past,” Laetitia Faye, a senior at the school told CBS 58. “And we don’t want future students to view our school as somewhere that’s not safe or somewhere where they can’t feel included in the daily activities that go on in our school, so I think it was just the breaking point and students want to see something happening.”

Other student organizers said they hoped the walkout was a visible message for the school.

“We are being told that things are being done, that things are changing, but we still see the same patterns over and over,” Citlali Garcia, a senior, said. “We just need them to hear us for once.”

The students said they wanted to see the school enact a zero tolerance policy for racist incidents and more diversity education for students and staff.

DSHA sent CBS 58 a statement saying in part the school, “stands shoulder to shoulder with our students as they work to promote social justice, and the school fully supports the increased efforts of our students to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equity throughout the entire DSHA school community.”

The statement went on to say the school recognizes there will be challenges ahead and that it also teaches forgiveness and reconciliation as part of its faith-based education.

Students who participated in the walkout said the event was not meant to be about the students against the school, but rather wanting to work with the administration to improve the school.

The full statement from DSHA can be read here:

“Divine Savior Holy Angels High School stands shoulder to shoulder with our students as they work to promote social justice, and the school fully supports the increased efforts of our students to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equity throughout the entire DSHA school community. Our goal is to give our students and staff the tools and support they want and need to remain active and involved in this important issue, and the school’s leadership believes that the effort should include everyone and involve all members of the school community. We are proud that DSHA students are standing up for what they believe is right.
At the same time, we know that there are challenges ahead, including an incident involving a video in which racial slurs were used that occurred off campus involving students. We are categorically opposed to the use of any and all racist language or action, and our school community is deeply committed to building a safe and equitable space for all of our students. Still, our Catholic faith teaches forgiveness, but there will be significant consequences for students who engage in conduct contrary to our principles of inclusion and equity, including engagement in a restorative justice process.
As a Catholic, Salvatorian high school whose mission is rooted in social justice, we are categorically opposed to the use of any and all racist language and behavior by our students, faculty or staff.  We teach our students that Black and Brown lives are sacred, and rooted in our mission, is to provide all of our students with a safe, secure, and respectful environment free from discrimination and harassment. We also teach repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
To our students and families of color, we recommit ourselves to listening to you, to working with you and to standing alongside you to help ensure that DSHA becomes a beacon of justice and equality in the ongoing fight against racism in all of its forms.”
Signed:
Katie Konieczny, President
Dan Quesnell, Principal
Lisette Rodriguez-Reed, Director of Student Services, Equity and Engagement
Heather Moran Mansfield, Ph.D., Academic Dean
Ruby Brock, Dean of Student Affairs
Stephanie Monson, Director of Campus Ministry
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