Published April 23, 2021
BY EMMA BROWN AND SOPHIA BONE
Following dozens of allegations made by high school students surrounding sexual battery and harassment at the hands of classmates over the past five years, Sexual Assault Awarness Monterey County, composed of approximateley 50 students from various high schools in the Monterey Peninsula, gathered on April 10 at Monterey’s Colton Hall to protest sexual misconduct in schools.
Poster-clad demonstrators marched in and around the area surrounding Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey, beginning and ending their protest at Colton Hall. Carmel High School senior Savannah Allen led the protest, organizing materials, speakers and demonstrators to join her in her march.
“We are here to address the rape culture and pack mentality that we find in men in middle schools, high schools, and beyond,” Allen stated to her fellow protestors. “We are here for the people who have been brave enough to share their stories and are told that it’s not a big deal or that it wasn’t assault or rape. We are here for the people brave enough to share their stories knowing that no investigation will ever be done.”
Other protestors wanted to send a message to school administrators.
“This protest is really important because it’s showing CHS that we still care about these issues,” sophomore Eva West said at the protest. “It wasn’t just a one-week trend. It’s still going on and we’re still fighting for change.”
Allen also addressed issues concerning sexual misconduct in high schools, such as having to sit next to an abuser in class or feeling let down by what students believe to be inadequate investigation into claims of sexual battery or harassment by school administration.
CHS senior Norah Bajari and sophomore Deedeeann Grijalva also delivered speeches, and sophomore TJ Linnevers sang to the crowd.
The majority of protestors called for educational reform at middle and high schools, hoping for health courses to incorporate more information about sexual abuse and consent..
“CHS needs a better sexual education program,” said CHS junior Olivia Kadosh. “They taught us the basics, but they didn’t really teach about the different forms of sexual abuse. They also should teach more about consent.”
Others called for more sweeping actions, hoping for change at the legislative level.
“I think the state needs to change the laws about minors who have sexually assaulted or raped someone and how they are punished,” CHS sophomore Brady Kasper said. “They get expelled for a year, but then they get to come back. That needs to change. And that’s not even a school rule, that’s state policy.”
Demonstrators conveyed a desire for a reformed culture surrounding sexual misconduct in schools, hoping that sexual harassment would no longer be dismissed as a joke, while others would like to see more support on campuses for victims of sexual misconduct.
To date, the SAAMC has not announced any plans for another protest.