soullulu3
Photo: Lulu Wang / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Students walked out of class at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday as part of a walkout in response to recent racist messages targeted at black freshmen.

The walkout, organized by Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation in partnership with Black Graduate Students, brought protesters to College Green, surrounding the statue of Benjamin Franklin. At the spot — which has been home to many recent protests (and counter-protests), including of a safety pin through The Button statue — SOUL offered a forum for students to express their "own grievances and demands," according to a flyer distributed by the group.

"Allies are invited to stand in silent solidarity and protect [people of color] from hecklers," the flyer read. 

Attendees held posters, emblazoned with: “This Is Not Solidarity,” “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance,” “Black Lives Matter," along with others. 

A female student who spoke at the gathering said, during her visit to Counseling and Psychological Services last week, a counselor told her to come back on Dec. 14 to talk with someone who may better understand her struggle. A male freshman discussed how his upbringing in Houston did not prepare him for the effect of receiving last week's hateful messages. 

Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum attended the walk-out and also voiced her support for students of color. 

A female freshman later spoke about the action-based steps key to being an ally, and another participant urged all to stand up for what they believe in, because “empirically, protests work.”

The walkout is the latest in a string of protests related to the hate-fueled incident, including a protest at the Harvard-Penn football game last Friday, a solidarity march organized by faculty on Wednesday well, along with series of open letters released in solidarity with students affected by the racist messages. 

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.