ETHS attempts to further the sexual harassment conversation

Rachel Krumholz, Feature Editor

Sexual harassment.

Though various measures have been taken by both students and administrators, this issue still occurs frequently within our very hallways.

Most of the time, it’s not that obvious. According to senior Grace Giangreco “objectification, cat-calling and people grabbing girl’s bodies” are all subtle forms of harassment that occur regularly.

Giangreco, along with senior Catherine Cushing, are working with physical education teacher Frank Consiglio to inform students about sexual assault and the importance of consent.

With intentions of furthering the conversation within the school, the three of them presented what they wanted to be done about the topic at the ETHS Connections Conference.

“The tone of the presentation was consent,” Consiglio says. “We wanted to make sure that we were able to get a very consistent message out there.”

Currently, they are in the process of creating a mandatory workshop for potentially all varsity athletes.

“I realized that a good way to reach a large chunk of both girls and boys is through athletics,” Giangreco says. Their goal is to inform high school students about this topic because far too many young people contribute to the problem without even knowing.

“Everyone always hears about sexual assault in the context of college campuses, but unfortunately it occurs incredibly frequently at ETHS too,” Giangreco adds.

The administrators of ETHS, having acknowledged the heightening issue, established various support systems to help the victims of sexual harassment and assault. By focusing on spreading awareness, they try to provide a safe place where students feel comfortable sharing experiences they have gone through.

According to associate principal Taya Kinzie, “awareness that this happens, awareness of support for students, and awareness of consent” is what administrators want to communicate to the students.

“We want to prevent it by changing and shifting a culture of consent where it’s always explicit consent,” Kinzie adds. “We will always provide support, we are really dedicated to that.”

They find it important to include it in everyday classes so that consent among teens becomes habitual.

“We look for places where this can be implemented within the curriculum.” Kinzie says, “That’s why it’s very purposefully part of the PE curriculum and wellness classes, with regards to relationships.”

Additionally, Evanston has teamed up with the YWCA to form a program called “Building Healthy Relationships” for junior and senior classes. This program addresses all aspects of safety within teenage relationships, including consent.

The club Girl Up is also taking the matter into their own hands. Girl up is a club that advocates for women all around the world. Sexual assault at ETHS has been a big topic for them.

“In Girl Up we educate both ourselves and others about how large the issue is,” says sophomore Leah Hurwitz, Girl Up member.

Although student voices, support groups, and ongoing conversations about the topic may not eliminate all harassment and assault at ETHS, it certainly is a start. Awareness of the topic is a huge step in informing students about how they can help the problem, rather than contribute to it.

Sexual assault is a bigger deal than we think. It’s important that students recognize the horrific effects harassment has on students and support the movement accordingly.