Good for the hundreds of OPRF students who staged a walkout Friday to express their frustration and exasperation at unchecked issues of sexual harassment and a school culture which these students say allows it to continue.
The protest followed a Wednesday presentation at the school, which tackled that issue directly. “Set the Expectation” is a program from a nonprofit organization that focuses on ending sexual and interpersonal violence. During a Q&A portion, the group’s founder, Brenda Tracy, took on reports out of OPRF about a group chat that included sharing of nude images among students.
While the presentation was strong, the response among some students was juvenile, painful and damaging. That’s what led SAFE, a student-led group advocating for equity, to organize the walkout. And it led Taylor Montes-Williams, an organizer, to say, “Enough is enough.”
“People need to speak now, especially now that I’m seeing all the pain people are going through,” said Montes-Williams.
Going into the planned protest, OPRF’s principal, Lynda Parker, emailed parents saying students would be allowed to exit the building safely. “They have a right to peacefully protest,” Parker wrote. And then before the day ended, Parker wrote again to both students and families saying the school’s administration had heard the students’ message loud and clear. She pledged to work with them to focus on these hard and pain-filled assaults on the well-being of every student.
That’s good. We are certain it is genuine. But continuous pressure, asserting the will of the wide majority of students that OPRF must do better, will be essential.