‘I stand with Jude’
To the Editor:
Re “New Rockville Centre varsity girls’ soccer coach resigns” (Sept. 9-15): In full disclosure, I have not been able to access the complete version of the Board of Education’s letter to district parents, but in the spirit of opening a dialogue around what seems like a closed conversation, I would suggest a few edits to the statements made by the board.
The letter references the board having “no way of verifying [the] claims” of racist messages that coach Jude Massillon received. The board s also noted that it had no reason to disbelieve him, either. In fact, it should say, “We have every reason to believe Mr. Massillon.”
As a former player, I can corroborate that everyone who knows Massillon — even briefly — can attest to his character and integrity. He has been a steward in the community and a hero to numerous student athletes, many of whom excelled well beyond their high school sports team to play in the NCAA, Olympics and World Cup. The board saying they have no reason to disbelieve him is weak, and undercuts the severity of the situation.
Threats, slurs and harassment are a criminal offense in New York. By questioning the validity of Massillon’s claims, the board is placing the blame on the victim. Talk about sending a terrible message. Should a student not speak up if he/she/they is/are being harassed because of race, sexuality or gender? If there is no way of verifying a claim, should we just pretend it never happened? Should we just accept it, like the board accepted the former coach’s resignation letter?
The letter also read, “Those who would engage in the harassment of a school employee demean themselves and poorly represent our community … worse, they send a terrible message to our girls’ varsity soccer team and, indeed, all of our student athletes.” The actor(s) behind the racial threats received by Massillon do far more than poorly represent our community and send a terrible message to our student athletes.
What’s worse to me is the vicious cycle that this type of behavior and lack of meaningful response/dialogue perpetuates. The message we are sending to our community is that this isn’t the first instance of racial bias in Rockville Centre, and it certainly won’t be the last. The blatant lack of leadership and wherewithal to address the difficult topic of racial inequity will only continue to make things more divisive.
I stand with Jude.
Noelle Malone, Rockville Centre