A Catholic high school in Boston has taken responsibility for the “unacceptable behavior” of its students during a basketball game in which fans chanted “You killed Jesus” at members of a rival school which enrolls a large number of Jewish students.
Around 100 young men were sitting in the student section during the game between private all-boys school Catholic Memorial and Newton North high school. They allegedly began shouting “You killed Jesus” in response to chants of “Sausage fest.”
According to Newton North senior Jonah Pemstein, the chants began with students from Newton North shouting “Here we go, Tigers,” to which Catholic Memorial students responded, “We can’t see you,” because the Newton students were dressed in camouflage. The Newton North students then began to shout “Where are your girls?” making use of the term “sausage fest” to describe the other school. This was the point where the chants of “You killed Jesus” began, according to Pemstein, writes Simon Rios for WBUR.
The division title game played at Newton South high school ended with Catholic Memorial beating Newton North 77-73. Newton North has a large Jewish community of students, and many of the attendees at the game said they were alarmed by the chanting.
A statement from Catholic Memorial President Peter Folan read: “Catholic Memorial School is deeply disturbed by the behavior of a group of student spectators who made an unacceptable chant Friday night while playing Newton North high school.”
The statement continued to say that faculty and staff members of CM immediately stepped in an effort to put a stop to the behavior, resulting in the students being reprimanded and requiring each one to make a personal apology to the principal of Newton North high school, shaking his hand before leaving the building, writes Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post.
The school states that they too have been the victim of such chants in the past, and are hard at work to put a stop to such behavior within the community.
“Catholic memorial school believes deeply that intolerance, of any kind, is unacceptable. We apologize for the actions of our students and we will continue to strenuously address this issue within our community.”
After the game, Catholic Memorial decided to ban its students from attending the semifinal game this week. In addition, the school has released plans to change its curriculum in addition to requiring its students to attend a series of assemblies, using the incident as a teachable moment to educate students on how such actions could be considered to be hurtful. The school has reached out to the Anti-Defamation League to seek advice on how to discuss antisemitism with their students, reports Cam Smith for USA Today.
The Boston Archdiocese referred to the events as “unacceptable” and made a promise to help educate the students of Catholic Memorial to ensure such an event does not happen again.
Newton superintendent David Fleishman contacted the New England Anti-Defamation League over the weekend to discuss the incident, with plans to further discuss the situation internally at the school this week. The principal is expected to address all students over the loudspeaker at the start of the school day.