On November 14, at 1:30 p.m., approximately 200 to 300 Tam High students walked out of class to participate in a walk out protest, joining protesters in other parts California and elsewhere in the country, to protests the election of Donald Trump. The resulting crowd held signs and chanted, drawing honks of support from passing cars on Miller Avenue.
Henry Bot, a student protester said, “Donald Trump’s views–they hurt everyone in America. It’s just not fair for anyone to be put down because of what his views are…It’s not okay.” Tam High was one of many schools across the country and Marin county that took part in Monday’s walkout. “We are here to change the electoral college’s mind. They, in the end, have the final vote and it’s up to them to change the outcome of the election. It’s really not fair [that Trump won] because Hillary won the popular vote,” said Bot. Students had a variety of opinions for participating in the protest, ranging from rejecting the president-elect, to voicing their opinions on minority rights, to just wanting to participate in the group effort.
Honking cars spurred the student protesters on as they pushed themselves onto the farthest edges of the curbs, shouting and waving their signs. Administration held the crowd out of the street and the growing crowd drew attention from passing Mill Valley residents. “I’m tearing up,” said one passing resident, “Maybe it’s because of having a voice, you know? All ages can have a voice…I guess that’s why I’m tearing up. It has power.”
There were also students amongst the crowd who did not support the protest. “I feel like a lot of kids are coming here to get out of class….I personally don’t support any of the candidates but I lean towards Trump in some sense. In contrast with that, I think it’s good that we recognize that some kids have a legitimate grievance [with his election],” said junior Rezin Harris.
Some teachers let students out of class early to join the protest or because the protest was causing distractions in class. “I’m out here today because there was this protest going on and it was a big distraction to my U.S. History class. My teacher just let us go because there was too much noise to concentrate,” Harris said.
At the end of the day, students who did not attend walked past the slowly dispersing crowd that was now gathered at the edge of the curb. Senior Sebastien Brear said, “I think [the protest] is stupid. It’s not going to accomplish anything. I think if you honestly were to actually ask Hillary [Clinton]…what she would want from her supporters, it’s not to ignore their education.”
To persuade students not to walk out on class, Principal J.C. Farr held an open-mic event in Mead Theatre during lunch that same day. In an email sent out to parents, students, and staff on Tuesday the 15th, Farr said, “Yesterday, Tam High held a lunchtime Unity Rally…Students were given an open mic and platform to express themselves….The speeches were well received by the audience, with an overall positive atmosphere. A portion of staff also gathered in support.”
The turnout at the Unity Rally ended up with more than a 100 people, including students and teachers. Despite the reception of the peace rally, a large number of students still participated in the walkout, which took place during the last period of school day. Farr said that the students have a right to free speech and the administration’s duty is to make sure they are safe.