High school students: How are you fighting rape and harassment in your school?

This week’s news has got me down.

On Tuesday the trial began in the St. Paul’s rape case. The plaintiff alleges that Owen Labrie, a St. Paul’s senior soon to head to Harvard, raped her as part of an end-of-year tradition called the “Senior Salute.” According to Buzzfeed:

[O]ften times student groups, such as athletic teams or dorms, competed to see who could “slay” the most girls – a term coined for the practice of the “Senior Salute.” Because the tradition was held at the end of the school year, April was said to be referred to as “Slaypril” and the month of May was called “Slay.”

Labrie planned his “Senior Salute” for months, Ruffle [the prosecutor in the case] said, presenting emails and text messages dated March 2014 that included a list Labrie was said to have written documenting the he wanted as conquests. The alleged victim was the only name written on the list in capital letters, Ruffle said, indicating that she was worth more points.

St. Paul’s denies that the case, or the “Senior Salute” tradition, suggests a broader cultural problem at the school. (Never heard that one before.)

The case is garnering attention to the issue of sexual violence and harassment in high schools across the country. As Elizabeth A. Armstrong, professor of sociology at the University of Michigan told The New York Times, “This is not filtering down from college to high school. It’s always been there in high school.” We just haven’t been talking about it.

So let’s talk about it. High school students: what’s your school’s climate like? How are violence and harassment institutionalized in your school’s traditions? And, perhaps most importantly: How are you and your classmates working to change the status quo? Comments are open!

Header image credit: Concord Monitor

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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