One of the most prestigious private schools in the city witnessed Students of Color Matter movement hold a lockout for 72 hours
Following days after the release of racist video from their peers, a group of students from Ethical Culture Fieldston School staged a protest. Early Monday this week, students found one of their classroom buildings locked. According to New York Times, on the other side of the set of blue doors stood a group of students.
They were protesting that Fieldston’s leaders had not done enough to change the racist culture that prevailed in the school.
ABC News reports that the protest came two weeks after the video -- showing students using "racist, homophobic, an misogynistic language," -- surfaced.
Ethical Culture Fieldston School, located in the Bronx, later saw the protesting students curled up in sleeping bags. They went on to occupy the building for the second day, which sent the head of the school in crisis mode.
The Bronx campus of the school had seeing tensions building up in the days that followed the release of the video - which was created several years ago. According to the New York Times, school administrators had jumped to action after seeing the clip.
The head of the school, Jessica L. Bagby, scheduled meetings with students, parents and staff members in an effort to “create an enduring change in our school culture.”
But that was not enough for many students. Bagby had written in an official letter that the video was shot years ago. However, none of the students' names was mentioned in the letter. Moreover, Bagby wrote that the school would not be commenting on the disciplinary process further "as it is confidential and involves teenagers."
The decision to withhold information about the disciplinary process seems to be at the root of the protests on campus on Monday.
Students have been posting videos of the protest on social media, with dozens of students shown sitting in a hallway and stairway.
A spokesperson for Fieldston released a statement Monday, saying "a group of Upper School students and parents initiated a peaceful sit-in protest in the administration building, locking out employees from entering."
After a racist video surfaced, students at Ethical Culture Fieldston in NYC, were protesting with a lock-in. They stayed overnight. https://t.co/km2wC9djJg— The New York Times (@nytimes) 12 March 2019
In another video posted in an Instagram story on the page created by the group "Students of Color Matter," a student is shown addressing a group of protesters, saying that "the disciplinary process has yet to provide mandatory briefing on the conduct and punishment."
Another student protester is later shown saying that they "will be here until our immediate demands are met."
“Derogatory language and intentionally harmful behavior are rampant within our community,” student organizers said to school officials via The Riverdale Press. “The absence of a system for reporting and recording these incidents means many of the students involved go unpunished.”
Other administrators and board members were met with locked doors the following morning. They also were turned away.
Students at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School held a sit-in in the administration building to protest the school leadership's mishandling of racist incidents. #thisisthebronx https://t.co/uDEdkmsAi8 pic.twitter.com/WzBlXKZjB4— thisisthebronx.info (@thisisthebronx) 12 March 2019
Student organizers posted a list of demands on the building’s doors and online, seeking written apologies from the classmates involved in the video; a mandatory black studies course for high school students; and two students’ attendance at board of trustees meetings, among other requests.
They also wanted the school to provide racial bias training for parents, end racial profiling on school grounds, protect faculty who choose to speak out against injustice and begin a new reporting system “for all incidents of bias, bigotry, and racism."
In an Instagram post made on the movement's official page, Students of Color Matter, it was stated that the lockout protest had ended.
"After nearly 72 hours, extensive back and forth with the administration and the overwhelming support of all of you ... THE LOCK OUT IS OVER!" the group wrote in a caption. "Fieldston has accepted all 20 demands and have organized a formal plan agreed upon by all parties to implement each demand as soon as possible. Stay tuned, more information coming!"
According to local news source News 12, the lock-in ended Thursday when administrators agreed to reconcile racial tensions and adhere to a list of demands.