Published Oct. 8, 2021
By AINSLEY HENDERSON
Prompted by the surge of sexual assault and harassment allegations that surfaced at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, several Carmel High School students and staff members have partnered with the Monterey Rape Crisis Center to create a new club, Our Voices, which will continue to help educate the school community on consent and provide those in need with a safe space.
“I’m really glad that the Monterey Rape Crisis Center is gong to be coming onto campus,” club representative Natalie Blackwell says. “Since they deal with sexual assault cases often, it will be good to have them as a resource.”
On Sept. 25 the Carmel Unified School Board voted to approve the club’s proposed budget, $11,000, which is going towards paying the sexual assault counselors, coordinating future campus events such as club recruitments and school-wide assemblies and implementing educational curriculum into Our Voices meetings.
After the school board’s go-ahead was received, licensed counselors from the Monterey Rape Crisis Center began coming to campus every Thursday to talk members through meetings. Anything said to a counselor is entirely confidential, which is intended to encourage students to express their emotions freely.
Until then, one of the first ideas that students have come up with is to create presentations aimed at further teaching CHS staff members about sexual harassment, especially the correct terminology and how to respond to students whilst traversing topics surrounding rape and sexual harassment.
“We weren’t taught this stuff when I was in school,” says Our Voices adviser and health teacher Leigh Cambra. “If teachers haven’t sought out information, they may not even be aware of the difference between assault and harassment.”
As Carmel High School’s only health teacher, Cambra is one of the few people whose job revolves around educating CHS students on topics such as consent and healthy relationships, which only make up a small portion of the overall health curriculum. She hopes that Our Voices meetings will provide those who have a passion for learning further and spreading awareness about sexual harassment with a place to do so.
Presentations will be periodically given by students throughout the school year.
Besides focusing on continuing sexual awareness education, one of the main goals of Our Voices is to provide a welcoming and diverse space for any student that might need support or feel the need to support those around them.
“I would just like for it to reach more people,” CHS sophomore Maggie Short says. “Sometimes I think people are actually afraid to associate themselves with the idea of sexual assault, even though it happens to way too many people.”
The Our Voices Club meets Thursdays at lunch in Room C and welcomes everyone.