HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION
The Haddonfield Human Relations Commission (HRC) serves in an advisory capacity to the Borough Commissioners to study or investigate matters of bias, intolerance and discrimination. The HRC was established in 1993 by ordinance for the purpose of promoting good will, cooperation and equal opportunity in social, employment, recreational and community endeavors and to eliminate bias, intolerance, indifference and discrimination in Haddonfield. The HRC believes that these are ongoing challenges within the life of a community.
The commission meets on every third Thursday of the month (Except July and August) at 7:30 p.m. in Room 102 of the Borough Hall.
7 members and 2 alternates, 1 year terms The members are:
Ellen Stone, Chair
Brittany O'Neill, Alt. I
Jacqueline Harris, Alt. II
Student Representatives (2)
Neal Rochford, Ex Off. Member
The HRC has engaged in a wide variety of activities over the years, including sponsoring annual community forums on issues of tolerance and acceptance in a diverse community, hosting “Community Conversations” on human relations-related topics, and sponsoring celebratory and reflective events on Martin Luther King Day. Over the years the HRC has assisted the Borough Commissioners in determining how to react to occasional human relations crises and how to engage in community building to avoid human relations crises. The HRC has investigated alleged bias incidents from time to time and made recommendations to the Borough on how to respond and has made its voice heard on a number of occasions in letters to the editor on topics of pressing concern.
The HRC regularly interfaces with other institutions and entities in Haddonfield such as the School Administration, School Board, the Police Department, and the student body of Haddonfield Memorial High School. Within a year of its establishment, the HRC determined that representation from HMHS was important to its mission. Consequently, every year since 1995, HMHS student representatives have been appointed to a yearly non-voting term, and the link which they have provided between the HRC and the student body of the high school has been invaluable.
As the result of a recommendation from the HRC, in 1997 the Borough established a Neighborhood Disputes Mediation Commission to assist members of the community in voluntarily undergoing mediation of unresolved disputes that are not court-related. The HRC also helped the Borough establish a protocol for responding to requests by diverse members of the community for utilization of Borough property to celebrate various religious holidays.
Since 2004, the HRC has bestowed an annual award to a high school aged resident of Haddonfield for outstanding human relations service to the community, named the Alvin Schomer Award, in honor of HRC’s former longstanding chair.
The application is available here.
Some of the many memorable events sponsored by the HRC were its 2000 program entitled “Haddonfield 2000: Embracing a Diverse Future,” its post 9-11-2001 forum entitled “Why Do They Hate Us and What Can We Do About It?” its 2002 event entitled “Whose Town Is It Anyway?” and the Community Conversation it hosted in 2003 on the topic of Marriage Equality for Gay Couples.