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Students Stage 'Lock-In' At Elite Bronx High School To Protest What They Say Is A 'Culture Of Bias'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An elite Bronx private school was effectively shut down Tuesday by students protesting the racial climate.

They staged an overnight protest over what they call a "culture of bias," CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

Ethical Culture Fieldston School students slept in hallways after a full day of protests. On Tuesday morning, they continued what they're calling a "lock-in" to demand changes at the school, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

"We have students sitting in front and standing in front of the doors, preventing administrators and other students from coming into the building," senior Isabella Ali said.

Fieldston School lock-in
Students at Fieldston High School in the Bronx staged a "lock-in" on March 12 to protest cultural bias in their school. (Photo: Students of Color Matter)

Students say nearly the entire school is showing its support in some form of civil disobedience. The group "Students of Color Matter" made 20 demands of the administration, including bias training and better recruitment and retention of students and faculty of color.

"There's currently another sit-in today. There was a sit-in yesterday where most of the students did not go to class," junior Chassidy Titley said.

Outrage mounted over the lack of perceived discipline of current students who used racial and homophobic slurs in a viral video shot a couple of years ago that recently emerged.

"Incidents and incidents like those aren't isolated incidents. They're kind of bigger, more systemic issues with racism in this institution," Ali said.

School leaders denied CBS2's request for an on-camera interview, but in a letter sent to parents they supported the students' rights to protest peacefully.

In response to their demands, the head of schools disclosed that one student in the video withdrew from the school, three were suspended and one faced no consequences. The school decided to keep an apology from them and create a system to investigate what students call a "culture of bias."

But students say that's not enough.

"I just hope it doesn't happen to another class. We're sticking around hoping that we can change right before we leave," senior Lauryn Salver said.

Although seniors like Salver will graduate in few months, they hope the more extreme steps such as the lock-in will create a more inclusive school culture.

Students say those who did not want to participate spent the day in the library. Some teachers held class in the cafeteria. Neither the kids nor the school would predict if things will be back to normal on Wednesday.


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