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The Milton Measure

Milton Students Unify in Protest

by Idone Rhodes on Friday, June 9th, 2017

After weeks of rising racial tensions — posting of the privilege posters, a man yelling the n-word at a group of black students, white students wearing blackface and yellowface over social media — students reached a breaking point. On Monday, May 22nd, hundreds of upper school students gathered in the Student Center during recess for a sit-in that would ultimately turn into a two-day long protest addressing racism on campus.

Organized by students of color across all four classes, the recess sit-in was meant to follow the walk-out of an all-school assembly that took place earlier on Monday morning. Students were angered by the fact that, although the administration preaches a “zero tolerance policy” for acts of hate or discrimination of any kind, they were reluctant to take any sort of visible action against acts of racism at the school or to use the words “racism” and “white privilege” when publicly discussing these issues. As the clocked reached 10:15 a.m., few were willing to get up and go to class, so a decision was made to extend the sit-in until 3 p.m. When teachers returned to their classrooms to begin third period, many were surprised to see that their rooms were almost completely empty. Ms. Foster remarked, upon reacting to the sit-in, that she “felt very proud and filled with admiration for the students who chose to take what seemed to be a very challenging step…that was tremendous.”

A main goal of the protest was to have a series of demands, which were compiled by student leaders of the movement, met and responded to by the administration. Among these demands were calls to have more education on “cultural and societal oppression,” greater transparency in the disciplinary committee process, and weekly meetings between students and the administration to discuss issues of race on campus. These latter two demands were met as follows: for the demand concerning transparency in the disciplinary process, the administration has promised to have a group of students, faculty, and administration begin to review the workings of the DC process in September 2017. For the demand concerning weekly meetings, on May 31st, the administration began holding town hall meetings. They also committed to creating a regularly scheduled meeting time to discuss these changes and to “generate reforms for issues that arise on campus.”

As protests continued into Tuesday’s classes, the student center, the admissions hall, the deans’ offices, and Mr. Bland’s office were packed with protesting students, with various members of the community standing in front of the groups to speak and share about their experiences. Among those that spoke was Talia Davis (IV) who shared excerpts from her Class IV talk that she wrote on privilege. When asked how she felt about the administration’s response to the demands, Talia said that the administration “[tries] to go above and beyond” but that she’s “not seeing that in this situation. They always say ‘Dare to be True…and lead by example’” but “[she’s] not seeing that.”

On May 25th, Rodney Glasgow visited Milton Academy to talk about diversity, oppression, and privilege. Rodney left a lasting message on the importance of being willing to do the hard work and being uncomfortable in order to make any real progress in these discussions. He also left the audience with the idea that being an ally requires one to sacrifice a little piece of his or her own identity to stand up for someone else’s, a practice that takes time to achieve.

Over the course of the protests, Milton Academy students clearly started the beginning of positive change in the school as well as the conviction, empathy, and willingness to be uncomfortable with one’s privilege. These actions displayed during the protests must continue on into the future so that Milton can become a place that truly accepts and sees every single person as the human being that they are. Ms. Foster put it best: “Seeds have been planted…what we decide to do in the days, months, and years ahead…will let us know whether we are willing to be changed.” If the momentum created by the protests continues, one can only hope that Milton will rise up for the better.


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Posted by Idone Rhodes on Jun 9 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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