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March 26, 2019

Bronx Fieldston school racism protest rages as school calls emergency parent meeting

March 13, 2019
On Monday, dozens of students teens took over school buildings in protest and declared themselves fed up with the Ethical Culture Fieldston School administration’s lack of response to alleged racial issues at the school in the Bronx. (Zoë Casdin)

Ninety students who occupied a building at Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx to protest racism at the elite private institution settled in for the long haul overnight Tuesday, as school leaders called for an emergency meeting with their parents.

The Daily News broke the story in February of racial unrest at the posh Riverdale school after an ugly and offensive video of white students repeating the phrase “crack n—-r” went viral.

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Dozens of students who are angry over the school’s lack of response to the racist video began their protest on Monday, taking over school buildings and broadcasting parts of their occupation live online.

After spending the night sleeping in administrative offices, student protest organizers told The News on Tuesday that they intend to remain at the Bronx campus through Thursday, which is the start of spring break.

The protesters, who call themselves Students of Color Matter, want the official disciplinary decision regarding the video released to the public. They also want a written apology from each student in the video, among other things.

Senior Chassidy Titley, 16, who helped organize the protest, said she’s going to keep up the protest until school officials start talking.

“I’m willing to stay in the building until Thursday because students of color have been dealing with unfair treatment and systematic racism within the walls of Fieldston,” Titley said.

“This protest is not only going to gain justice for the students of color attending today but also make a greater change for the next generation of all students to come,” she added.

ECFS Hundreds of Ethical Culture Fieldston School students are protesting what they describe as systemic racism and a culture of silence at the Bronx school by occupying learning spaces and locking out school administrators.
ECFS Hundreds of Ethical Culture Fieldston School students are protesting what they describe as systemic racism and a culture of silence at the Bronx school by occupying learning spaces and locking out school administrators. (Molly Crane-Newman / New York Daily News)

Fieldston Head of School Jessica Bagby sent a letter to parents Tuesday afternoon night in which she said the protest is “greatly disruptive” to Fieldston’s operation and admitted to race problems at the school.

“The current situation arises out of multi-year-racial trauma our students have experienced while at school,” Bagby wrote. “My colleagues and I could not be more profoundly sorry for this reality.”

Bagby also called on parents of protesting students to meet with school administrators to discuss the situation on Tuesday night.

The conflict at Fieldston is one of a number of racial flare-ups in elite New York City private schools this year.

Racist incidents also prompted recent protests at Poly Prep Country Day School and Mary McDowell Friends School, both in Brooklyn.

And a similar protest also broke out at Sarah Lawrence College on Monday, where students occupied campus space and issued a list of demands to administrators over “injustices imposed on people of color by this institution on a daily basis.”

The activist students at Sarah Lawrence, who call themselves the Diaspora Coalition, released a list of demands and occupied the campus’s main administrative building for 24 hours.

They want Sarah Lawrence administrators to hire more faculty of color, provide more housing for students and boost resources for low-income students, among other things.

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