A group of students at San Ramon Valley High School staged a walkout from class on Friday afternoon -- the first day of finals -- to protest racially charged occurrences during the past school year that they say have left them feeling threatened by the environment on campus.
Most recently, some SRVHS students expressed anger over the election of a student body president who had posted briefly on social media a campaign video later criticized as Islamophobic – leading scores of students and parents to show up at last Tuesday’s school board meeting to protest the district’s decision to allow the senior to continue serving as president of the entire student body for the 2017-18 school year.
But Friday's walkout, featuring about 200 students, wasn’t just about protesting the associated student body election or the video, according to those participating. Rather, it was a protest on larger issues, on various incidents that they felt indicated a lack of inclusion at SRVHS.
“We’re hoping to send the message that we’re not going to stand for this,” said Ce-Lai Fong, a junior and president of the gay-straight alliance (GSA) at SRVHS. Fong noted that there had been several incidents over the course of the year that had taken place in the community that had been disturbing, pointing particularly to the burning of a swastika on a nearby hillside earlier this year.
The idea of the walkout was collaborative, originating by a few upset individuals along with many members of the Feminism Club and the GSA, according to organizers.
At 1:20 p.m. Friday, students who chose to participate walked out of their classes, and, after a mini-rally on a plaza outside classrooms at the high school, marched to the SRVHS entrance, shouting “No justice, no peace, no bullsh(**) policies” and waving signs in the air, at which point they continued their rally.
“We’re hoping to make a statement to the school that it does affect us,” said Emily Doran, one of the student organizers of the walkout. She held a sign that read “Love has no color” on top of a pink peace sign.
Junior Sanjana Gopalan felt the message of inclusion was especially needed in SRVHS, where, she said, the campus is predominantly white. People, she said, don’t always understand what it’s like to be a minority voice.
Both Gopalan and Fong noted that they felt the administration had been supportive of the walk-out.
By 2 p.m., all students had returned to class.
School district officials did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday's walkout.