From the department of "high schoolers doing dumb things" comes this controversy at Berkeley High in Berkeley, California, where administrators recalled an entire set of yearbooks for including an "offensive and racist phrase."
The offense in question? Calling the students of the Academy of Medicine and Public Services (a program within the larger school) "a small learning community focus on medicine, making our future doctors, dentists, nurses, physicians, fire chiefs and trash collators."
AMPS is 86% students of color, according to the Berkeley High Black Student Union president Kadijah Means, and so the idea that these students would be training to be "trash collators" (the prankster probably meant to write "collectors") was taken as offensive by those within the school. Apparently, this wasn't the first racially motivated incident at the school this year. From Means's statement:
Unfortunately, as usual, the administration did not tell the students why they should turn in their yearbooks. This was unsatisfactory, but not surprising to many of the students within Berkeley High School. In a prior matter, a noose was found on campus on October 1st 2014 and students weren’t informed of the event until eight days later.
There has been a pattern of failed communication between the the administration and the students at Berkeley High School in the past. Events such as the Berkeley High yearbook incident, discovery of the noose on campus, and other like events have triggered a tension among the Berkeley High community. The climate at Berkeley is currently hostile.
Earlier today, the Contra Costa Times reported that the offensive language was a prank written by someone outside of the academy.
Yearbook distribution is going to be stopped "until the language is replaced," according to the school's interim principal Kristen Glenchur, and every AMPS senior will be receiving a free copy of the revised edition.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.