Student fans tossed following JV basketball game over alleged racist comments
ENOSBURG FALLS, Vt. (WCAX) - Another racial incident at a high school sports event in Vermont. The alleged use of a racial slur at a high school basketball game follows a string of similar incidents around the state during the fall sports season and a coordinated effort by schools to root out the bad behavior.
Tuesday night following a JV girls basketball game between Enosburg and Middlebury, a Middlebury player told the EFHS athletic director about inappropriate comments from the stands, leading to the entire student section being asked to leave the varsity game.
In a letter sent to parents, Enosburg High School officials say they have every reason to believe racial slurs were uttered. Enosburg says they are looking into who the perpetrators were and they would like anyone with knowledge to come forward.
Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Lynn Cota says the administration began interviewing students yesterday to piece together information from where the statement came from. Once that is complete this incident will result in disciplinary action and fans will be allowed back into games.
Cota says that Middlebury and Enosburg have been working closely on the matter to and collaborate on ways in which harm can be repaired.
Moving forward, Cota says that they will continue to work with students and staff, “in order to help them to be able to examine their biases, understand the difference between intent and impact of words and actions, and deepen our sense of awareness about diversity, equity, and inclusion in order to build a culture of love, respect, and belonging.”
Their statement says, in part: “We will complete this investigation in as timely a manner as possible. We are working collaboratively with the Middlebury Administration. We are fully committed to resolving this matter so that our student fan section and community members can return to enjoying the winter basketball season.”
The Vermont Principals’ Association, which oversees sports in the state, says regarding the incident, “We encourage schools to continue to take strong action and make it clear to all that we won’t tolerate these types of incidents and behaviors directed toward any of our student-athletes, coaches, or officials.”
This latest incident comes on the heels of several allegations of racial slurs at other schools’ sports games this fall.
One allegation was against the Enosburg boys soccer team, but the school did its own investigation and says there was not enough information to substantiate the allegations because they were not given access to the Winooski players or investigatory information so the investigation was incomplete.
People we spoke to in the community on Thursday were disheartened to hear about the latest incident.
“I would like to think that our community is better and stronger than that and way more accepting than that and friendlier, and I would hope that we are raising our children in that manner,” Cassandra Stanley said.
“I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think it’s something our community even goes for, so there’s no room for that here in Enosburg Falls,” Anthony Nichols said.
The Vermont Principals’ Association has instituted numerous policies around racism in sports, including a statement read before games to promote good sportsmanship and respect, a way to report racial incidents, and they created a diversity equity and inclusion committee to help promote equity in sports in the state.
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