On January 14, eighteen high school students and adult advisors from Marina and Segerstrom High Schools engaged in day-long restorative dialogue held at OC Human Relations’ offices and facilitated by members of OC Human Relations’ staff.

The dialogue was organized following an October2019 high-school football game in which insulting, and potentially racist, signs were displayed by students during the game. The incident was publicized widely in local media.

The goals of the restorative dialogue were to:

  • Create space for community building and promote understanding among participants
  • Create safe space for students to speak directly to each other about football game signs – the impact and aftermath of it going ‘viral’
  • Explore ways to connect on a human level and send a united “no hate” message across campuses

Participants found the session to be useful, and in particular:

  • Students began conversations tenuously but were able to connect with each other beyond the conflict
  • Apologies between students from both schools happened and deeper understanding about the impact of the signs and aftermath was at the forefront & center of discussion
  • Students began to have conversations about the need to plan a united front and send a unifying message about respect and kindness at future games
  • At the conclusion of the dialogue, students exchanged personal information to keep connected and began to discuss ideas of organizing a follow-up outing together.

Restorative dialogues such as this one can have a positive impact and bring people in conflict together.  We applaud the participants for their open-mindedness, willingness to listen and desire to move forward.