Josh, a native of New Jersey and now a studentat Rutgers University, said he created the Black atWFS account to get people talking about a difficulttopic and help all students feel more accepted.
“I received messages from people who were at
Woodberry in the early 1970s all the way up to
boys from the class of 2024,” Josh said. “It was an
eye-opening experience, and it was interesting to
hear the consistency of those stories.”
A member of the class of 2021 wrote about a
discussion he had with a classmate.
“He was a student I held in high regard, and I
thought he would be willing to listen to what I
had to say. Instead the discussion ended with him
saying, ‘Shut up, you’re barely even a n****r,’ and
walking away. He was taking a shot at the fact that
I am mixed race, but I remember the demoralizing
feeling that followed to this day.”
AJ Wilson ’ 20, a Northern Virginia native who
is now a freshman at Middlebury College, said
difficult conversations on matters like race didn’t
happen often enough during his time on campus.
He believes the failure to have hard conversations
played a role in incidents of racism he experienced.
“It really stems from a heart of ignorance, not
a heart of bad intent,” AJ said. “I have a love for
Woodberry, so my vision is to help students have
a positive impact. In part the ignorance seen in
comments I heard is because you’re arriving here
as a kid. But boys are here nine months of the year,
and they’re growing up. We can and should help
lift that ignorance.”
• • •
When the prefect board returned to campus in
mid-August to begin training for this school year,
ensuring that every member of the student body
felt fully part of the Tiger brotherhood was a key
focus. At the end of its meetings, the board elected
Peter Moore of Arlington as senior prefect. In
remarks to the faculty, Peter said the board is
focusing on five values this year: respect, courage,
accountability, humility, and equality.
“We each want to build a relationship withevery student on our halls and make sure theyknow they can come to us at any time,” Peter said.
Dawson Chitwood, a prefect fromCharlottesville, said the hardest thing for him toread in the Black at WFS posts were commentsthat students or alumni didn’t know who wouldhelp them when they dealt with racism. He saidhe never wanted a boy on his hall to have thesame experience. Walker Simmons, a prefect fromCharlotte, said the board had an opportunity toknit students together in new ways this year.
“Woodberry functions best when the school
comes together as a whole; we see that at The
Game or other big events,” said Walker. “Forming
relationships with all students emphasizes that
we are one community.”
Several Black students said they were
stereotyped as athletes first and students or
Woodberry boys second.
“I just remember on many occasions there were
a lot of jokes about my athleticism,” wrote CJ
Prosise ’ 12. “The joke was Black people have an
extra muscle in our legs that makes us run faster. I
heard that joke at least once a week, maybe more.
I became very immune to the racism that exists at
Woodberry and decided to use my energy to take
advantage of the opportunity instead of giving any
attention to the ignorance that surrounded me.”
Jojo Beal, who lives in Northern Virginia and
is the prefect on Lower Turner, said his work
with third formers has reminded him that every
student starts Woodberry with a shared sense of
excitement and possibility, not with a label that
limits what he can be.
“We start off all together . . . and it can be hardto stay unified,” he said. “We as prefects wanteveryone to feel accepted. That’s why we set avalue of equality. That’s about everything, not justrace. We want everyone to feel welcome, and that’s
“One of the best conversations I’ve been a part of was onewith the Caucus and the entire prefect board. It’s amazingto hear the students of all races speaking up and seeing itas their job to help educate and make the campus as diverseand cohesive as possible.”
George Ladley ’ 19 and Josh Odoom ’ 19