Berkeley HS Students Protest Handling of Rape Allegations on Campus

A lawsuit claims school staff failed to report an alleged assault to police

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Some students at Berkeley High School walked out of classes Monday to protest the way administrators handled an on-campus rape allegation.

"Yes means yes. No means no. Rape culture has got to go!" is what students chanted during a demonstration in which they wore red to represent their anger.

Students at the East Bay school say they’re dealing with their own version of the #MeToo movement.

Details about the organized walk out were posted on Instagram Friday. According to an Instagram post, the walkout initially was planned for the beginning of second period at 9:25 a.m., but it was postponed until 10:45 a.m. The post also said the protest/sit-out will continue until the Berkeley Unified School District agrees to change its sexual harassment and abuse policy.

A former student is suing the the district claiming school leaders did nothing after she reported a classmate tried to rape her.

The former student, identified as "Jane Doe," claims that in May 2019, a male student pulled her into a locked classroom, threw her onto a desk, groped her and tried to rape her. The alleged victim said she repeatedly said no, managed to push him off of her, and ran out of the room.

"This is not OK," said James Wong, a Berkeley High School student. "And we need a community and culture that protects people."

The victim said she reported the attack to a counselor and an assistant principal. The counselor allegedly told her the male students had assaulted up to 10 other girls. The lawsuit claims school staff failed to report the attack to police, or ensure her safety on campus.

After word of the lawsuit got out, a list appeared on a girl's bathroom door. Someone wrote in black ink: "Boys to Watch Out For." Some of the boys are called rapists. A message on the wall reads, "stay safe ladies."

"I'm not shocked," student Asha Baudart said. "Something like this has been building up."

Berkeley Unified School District's superintendent said his staff takes all allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously. He said the district is open to some of the students' demands.

"Many of the things that they'd like to see, including additional education about affirmative consent are things that we'd be willing to support here at the high school," Superintendent Brent Stephens said.

Meanwhile, some students said they will take part in a march on Tuesday to the superintendent's office. They said they also plan to be at next week's school board meeting to voice their demands.

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