Students to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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Students to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month

A student pledges to combat rape culture.

A student pledges to combat rape culture.

A student pledges to combat rape culture.

A student pledges to combat rape culture.

Sarah Frieman, News Editor

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Throughout the April 23 spirit week,

the Sexual Assault and Harassment Prevention Committee will administer student and faculty workshops, a pep rally spoken word video and a number of smaller scale activities early in the month to coincide with the national campaign.

    “We hope to create a culture that normalizes the practice of asking for consent,” committee leader Lisa Roncone says. “Our goal is to get students and staff talking about sexual harassment and assault and how we are all responsible for engaging in being part of the solution to end it.”

    For the past 17 years, the National Sexual Violence Center has been campaigning each April for sexual assault awareness. This will be the second year ETHS is offering workshops, which will be facilitated by the staff, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) and Rape Victim’s Advocate. The workshops will educate on topics including masculinity, sexual assault of women of color, human trafficking, sexual assault and the LGBTQIA+ community.

   “Our workshops represent the intersection of sexual assault and a variety of identities, including race, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation,” Roncone says. “We want to provide education around laws of consent, survivors’ rights and resources available at ETHS and in the community.”

   Throughout the month, the committee will be promoting the #WeAreTheSolution hashtag to try to push their message and act as their slogan for the month. The committee will also facilitate professional development for staff and coaches to increase awareness and comfort when talking about sexual assault, violence and harassment.

    “The topic is almost never talked about at our school and our community really needs to work on that,” senior committee member Zoe Lydon says. “My goal is to normalize talking about the subject because I think that is the first step to ending it.”

    For the April 28 pep rally, the committee is planning to show an awareness video in Beardsley gym featuring how different student identities and their communities have seen and dealt with sexual assault. The video will also include a spoken word performance done by the Hip-Hop club.

     “For me, the issue deserves overwhelming attention because it truly can and does affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations and races,” junior committee member Erin Kim says. “I hope people will be able to gain a true understanding of the issue, the urgency of addressing it and the severity of the crime.”

   The committee will be selling Sexual Assault Awareness t-shirts and buttons throughout April, with partial proceeds going to agencies which provide for ETHS students and the community. Every staff member will be given the same shirt. All students and staff are encouraged to wear the shirt the day of the pep rally. In addition, April 25 is National Denim Day, in which those participating do so to protest the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault and what causes it.

    “I hope people will value the idea of breaking down the stigma that surrounds sexual assault and its survivors,” Kim said. “I hope to see other students and faculty inspired to become active in fighting the epidemic that is sexual assault.”

    In the past year, the committee has been working to make their meetings more inclusive to broaden the range of student voices than in the previous year.

   “Last year the majority of committee members were white and we really wanted to change that to make it less exclusive,” Lydon said. “We want to get more voices and listen to students from all different backgrounds.”

    Although awareness about sexual assault has increased this year with the #MeToo movement started by celebrities, Lydon explained that the committee didn’t want to make the explicit connection between the Hollywood allegations and the ETHS community.

     “We don’t want to make students feel like they can’t relate to the message,” Lydon explained. “We want to make the month as relevant to high school students as possible.”

    The committee meets every Tuesday from 7:45 to 8:30 and encourages any student interested to attend and contribute their ideas. All students will receive an email with more information about each workshops and how sign up. The workshops will take place during lunch periods and teachers are encouraged to bring their classes.