Peacefully protesting the way to justice for survivors of sexual assault

Students+of+GBHS+sit-in+for+a+peaceful+protest+during+Grizz+Time.

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Students of GBHS sit-in for a peaceful protest during Grizz Time.

The fight for justice to be given to survivors of sexual assault has been an ongoing conversation throughout the community of Granite Bay High School and as a result has made its momentum onto others RJUHSD campuses as well.

This particular struggle for change found its way at the last district board meeting where students gathered to protest the ways in which they felt administration had failed to provide them justice against their assaultors.

Students began their peaceful protests both off campus and on campus with a “sit-in” on the outdoor stage during Grizz Time and another at the RJUHSD board meeting. Signs were held reading things such as “blame rapists not victims” and “survivors deserve justice.”

GBHS principal Amber Clark released a statement in response to the protests, stating that “(she) noticed all GBHS students need ongoing education and information about how to report an incident, the implications of using social media, and administrations’ obligation to support all students and their families’ rights to privacy.”

However, many of the student protestors are wondering what steps will be taken to provide this sort of ongoing education.

Junior Ella Joy Bystrowski came forward as a facilitator for the protests which had taken place here and at other schools as well.

“There (were) many students and peers of mine who were reaching out and talking about their stories and how they were silenced. I think they came to me because I am very outspoken and would try to give them a voice,” Bystrowski said. “I think that we have all seen that there is a lack of education on what consent is too.”

In recent years, the stigma of conversing about sexual assault has begun to break, yet students are still feeling as though they are unaware of the system that can provide them assistance in gaining justice for their stories.

It’s not just about one singular case, it’s a recurring issue”

— Ella Joy Bystrowski

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“It’s not just about one singular case, it’s a recurring issue. I have had so many students (direct message) me about their instances whether it be from Granite Bay or other schools,” Bystrowski said.

Since protesting, students who participated took a presence on social media to present their group name “The Fight for Consent.”

GBHS sophomore Charlie van der Veen, one of the student protest organizers, has played a key role in creating and enacting objectives for students all over the Roseville Joint Union High School District.

“We’re trying to increase support for survivors of sexual assault and implement consent as part of the school curriculum and as a graduation requirement while also working on trauma informed care from teachers and staff members,” van der Veen said.

With information about sexual harassment and assault being present in most of RJUHSD’s freshman health classes, “The Fight for Consent” aims to change this narrative to create more awareness that stays among the student bodies of schools throughout the district.

“We are working on going to the district curriculum specialist to change the curriculum to include consent and we talked to the district HR representative to change the staff (online training class) about sexual harassment. We have spoken to the title nine coordinator about extending that into trauma informed care as well,” van der Veen said.

With students and staff members coming together through this fight, GBHS Principal Amber Clark urges students to share these stories in any way they can in order for investigations to take place.

“You can report anonymously…I don’t know if people were taking advantage of that opportunity. You don’t have to be anonymous, but you can be anonymous, or you can just walk straight up to the admin office and (tell them) what happened,” Clark said. “Some people report, and through this reporting they realize, someone’s going to get in trouble. You all are compassionate, you are loving, you are kind people. Even in the face of something traumatic nine times out of ten, you don’t want the other person to get in trouble. And you say…I just wanted someone to know about it or (I) just don’t want it to happen again. And I think that that is a barrier to some of the work that happens beyond just an investigation.”

With both students and faculty working towards bettering their knowledge of sexual harassment, assault, and trauma informed care, both groups urge survivors to tell they’re truth if able.

 

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