Walk-out protest organized to speak out against open schools

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As controversy grows surrounding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to keep New York City public schools open, many students have taken the initiative to speak out in protest across social media. Last night, an Instagram account with the username @thhscovid19 published a post announcing a walk-out protest to take place at Townsend Harris on Tuesday, March 17. The Classic conducted an interview with the organizer, who requested to remain anonymous, for more information regarding their plans. Below are the organizer’s responses.

Q: Why do you think it is important for students to actively protest against the opening of schools?

A: I think it’s important for students to actively protest because it is what makes students active members of the community as well. Many teachers, parents, and citizens of NYC are actively protesting the opening of schools through social media. It is also time for us students to have a voice through protests organized from social media.

Q: Can you explain the logistics of the protest? When do you plan to do it and how do you plan to carry it out?

A: The protest is planned to be executed on Tuesday, March 17. It is first urged for students who are able to stay home with their guardian’s permission to stay. However, those who are attending school are asked to attend the walk-out protest on Tuesday. The protest will happen at the end of Band 6 (around 12:20 PM). Students will walk out of the school building and return home. This is in hopes to gain the school officials’ attention and the NYC DOE’s attention.

Q: Will students be walking through the Queens College campus as a unified group or will everyone be going home?

A: It was originally planned to walk throughout the QC campus to protest. However, I’ve been told by a student that something similar occurred last year where the school administrators wanted to lead the walkout and have the students return back to their classes a few minutes later. This made it conclusive that a walk-out out of school to return back shortly wouldn’t be effective. On the other hand, a full walk-out out of school to our homes will serve a stronger message to our school and the DOE. It would be pointless to protest being in unsanitary conditions to voluntarily return to them shortly after. 

Q: Is there a reason you decided to organize this protest for Tuesday rather than Monday? 

A: Yes, because the deadline of Monday seemed too short of a time to create a gathering over the weekend. I preferred to have a school day to increase awareness of the protest during school because not everyone is active on social media and will hear about it during the weekend.

Q: What kind of responses have you received so far? 

A: Many have been in support as well as many criticizing the plan. Both types of responses are great because the original idea wasn’t perfect. The responses were helpful hearing other perspectives from students to conform a plan that will best suit as many students as possible. However, now that it is soon reaching the day of the protest, I don’t believe it should be altered from now on because it may cause confusion and disunity during the protest.

Q: Do you believe that students will leave for the day if they are the kind of students who didn’t stay home to begin with?

A: Yes because the majority of the time, students don’t stay home because of their guardians who won’t allow it. However, students that leave during the day won’t be hindered by their guardians because it’s during school. If we all gather together and attend the protest, the students’ guardians will most likely be in support of a major protest rather than if only a couple students decided to walk out.

Q: What would you like to say to students who are contemplating whether to participate in this protest or not? 

A: For students who are on the fence of whether or not they should participate, understand that every participant matters. Be the person who says they will protest and soon enough all your friends will agree to participate as well. We are only effective as a whole and need as many people possible to send our message. If you believe that your voice doesn’t matter because you are only one voice, know that your one voice collectively with others will make this change possible.