Sexual harassment still occurs despite numerous efforts to stop it

Rachel Krumholz, Feature Editor

Despite various measures taken by both students and administrators, sexual harassment 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 girls’ bodies” are all forms of sexual 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. “Everyone always hears about sexual assault in the context of college campuses, but unfortunately it occurs incredibly frequently at ETHS too.”

The administrators, 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. They find it important to include it in everyday classes so that consent among teens becomes habitual, which is why they purposefully included it in PE and wellness courses.

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.

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.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline can help victims who need to talk about past incidents they have gone through. You can contact them at 1-800-656-4673.