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Campus Life: the Walkout

By Ruba Abdelgalil (Reporter '26)

During a recent MFW, a walkout was held by members of the Black Student Forum. While many witnessed the walkout, few are aware of both the concrete reasoning and the planning process for its execution.

On the evening of Monday, December 12th, 2022, members of the FCS community received troubling, but opaque news about an incident that occurred in a locker room. Middle school students reported a racial slur written on a gym locker. The administrators concurred that the graffiti was not an act committed by a member of our community, instead by any member of the various groups who utilized our spaces that prior weekend.

The FCS administration responded to this action by sending out a letter to members of the community, holding a brief meeting before programming on Tuesday, and contacting Lower Merion Police. Students at FCS, especially the members of the Black community, expressed their disappointment with how the situation was handled. The letter didn’t specify the community affected by this slur. In addition to this, no measures were taken to create an affinity group, similar to the one held recently by the JSU (Jewish Student Union), and there was no awareness raised on the subject of racism and racial slurs.

It is important to note that this occurance isn’t the primary cause for the walkout, but rather the final straw. Black students at FCS expressed the social challenges they face on a daily basis. A prominent one is the change of opening time for the DEBI Office. The DEBI Office is a crucial space for students at FCS. Although it is open to all members of the FCS community, the majority of students who utilize this space are in the BSF due to it being the initial place for the club. The DEBI Office used to be accessible to students at all hours of the day. Since the administrator who’s in charge of the office is on maternity leave, the hours in which students are allowed have shifted. The time shift directly affects students who arrive at school early and get picked up late.

In this specific case, the Black Student Forum decided to take action. Joe, a leader of BSF, initiated the plan for the walkout to be during Wednesday’s meeting for worship. The plan he devised specified that any participants must dress in all-black attire, sit in the center-front section of the meeting room, attend an affinity group meeting for worship, and most importantly, engage in proper behavior. Joe and Haylee, another BSF leader, proposed this plan to the Upper School Dean and the Head of School. The Head of School expressed concern about the walkout being a disturbance to the MFW. Because of this, the walkout was initially disapproved, however, they allowed there to be an affinity meeting. Despite this disapproval, members of BSF decided they would follow through with their original plan. Joe stated, “when something like a racial slur appears inside Friends Central’s community, it should not be taken lightly and be easily forgotten.” BSF members felt as though the walkout process was the keystone of the plan. The walkout symbolized both their response to this event and it signified their emotions regarding the school’s response. By the next day, both parties reached a consensus. The plan derived integrated the walkout and the meeting for worship. The plan entailed that BSF members would be invited to walkout, therefore making it a part of the MFW, rather than an unforeseen addition. The plan satisfied both BSF members and administrators. Not only does this occurrence affect our community today, but it will set a precedent for future generations at Friends’ Central.

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