Conversations surrounding sexual harassment are useful, assembly offers little prevention

Michael Wafford, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, March 12th, all male students were called to the Sun Theater for a mandatory talk on sexual harassment. The assembly started off with a small introduction where, for anyone who didn’t already know, the group was informed vaguely that sexual harassment and even borderline sexual assault that has been an issue within the school. After the initial talk, there was an informational video on the basic definition and other information about sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The video covered a lot of topics, and I really appreciated how the film did not play to the stereotype that harassment was only committed by heterosexual males towards females. During this, I noticed many students that were either laughing and making jokes, in tears, or staring with blank faces until the video ended. Although the assembly was a good way to make students know the issue is being taken seriously, I feel that until students start taking responsibility for their actions and being more intentional with what they do, harassment will still be an issue. But the assembly is a start.

I believe the presentation was very effective in getting a message across that we as a school are addressing this issue. It was a bit of a shock that some of the people around me may have been victims of harassment, or know people who are victims. As much as I can appreciate the efforts the school is taking, I was disappointed that not enough was done to show that the school, the institution itself, was going to protect students.

One part I disliked about the assembly was when they talked about the punishment system. Although dealing with , is up t three days is not enough for someone who has sexually assaulted another student. It’s almost a joke. I believe in second chances, but three days of suspension isn’t really a punishment. I would go as far as to say it discourages students from learning from mistakes.

What makes sexual harassment at a high school level such an issue is how hard it is sometimes to prove sexual assault and sexual harassment. A big problem is the time frame in which it happens. A lot of times, victims of sexual harassment or assault are threatened and guilted into believing that their problems will only make it worse for other people, that “it’s not such a big deal”, or that nobody will help you, making it hard to protect victims and gain evidence. Another problem is the ages of the students. High school is a mixed bag of humans with many different issues, backgrounds, and personalities, making each case different. This makes it hard to institute a definite punishment policy, while still solving the issue and building a better person, the whole point of the high school experience.

The newest assembly focused more on what it means to be a man rather than just information on sexual harassment. When asked the question “what does it mean to be a man” many students gave deeper answers than I was expecting. It was heartening to hear students talk about how they learned from their parents mistakes, or how their mothers made them into the person they are today. The school seems to be taking a constructive approach to curbing sexual harassment, and I feel like this is working, and I hope the school does more things like this.