Jan 3, 2023
Students at Oakland Technical High School staged a walk out Wednesday in protest of the school’s handling of sexual assault and harassment allegations. Students carried signs, stopped traffic, and repeated chants intended to pressure school administrators into strengthening policies around all types of sexual violence – assault, harassment, discrimination, and misconduct.
Hundreds of students reportedly walked to the Oakland Unified School District headquarters, chanting “consent is necessary” and offering demands to administrators.
Among the demands put forth by students were:
A FOX 2 (KTVU) report indicated that students want “to shine a light on a dirty little secret, widespread sexual misconduct on campus, including harassment, groping, and a lack of consequences for the perpetrators.”
“Nothing is going to happen unless we make a big thing. The administration doesn’t want to do anything unless they are under pressure,” student protest organizer, Amara Romero, told FOX 2.
Wednesday’s walk out was the latest in a recent wave of student protests across the Bay Area, according to a report from The OaklandSide. The numerous protests by Oakland-area students are reportedly an effort to call out sexual assault and harassment since the school year began.
In addition to Wednesday’s march, Oakland Tech students also organized a walkout last Friday. At that event, students spoke about what they describe as “the mishandling of sexual misconduct incidents by school administrators,” according to the OaklandSide report. In September, OaklandSide’s report confirmed that students at Oakland School for the Arts walked out of classes to demand “more resources for survivors of sexual assault and harassment.”
“For far too long, OUSD and surrounding districts have perpetuated a culture that has made sexual misconduct seemingly go unpunished,” student protestor and organizer, Amara Romero, added. “It will take deep structural change to actually fix any of this.”
“Playing by their rules wasn’t working anymore,” Symi Gabriel, a ninth grade student at Oakland School for the Arts said, according to the OaklandSide report. “A lot of people try to think of the walkout as the culmination and the end of everything, but we see it more as the beginning of getting our voices out there.“
Following the walkout by students at Oakland School for the Arts (OSA), the charter school’s administrators brought in an independent firm to investigate the sexual assault/harassment claims that some students made (including allegations dating as far back as the 2018-2019 school year). According to the OaklandSide report, investigators haven’t found any evidence to substantiate the students’ claims. In a statement to the OSA community Tuesday, the school’s executive director indicated that the administration has been conducting weekly meetings with the student safety committee to listen to any concerns.
FOX 2 reported that Oakland Unified School District was conducting a special training session Wednesday for teachers and staff. The session reportedly entailed:
In addition to the above mentioned student protests, OaklandSide’s report confirmed that similar events took place at the following institutions:
Students at Oakland Tech have alleged that their classmates as well as teachers and staff have created an unsafe culture that tolerates sexual violence. Last summer, protest organizer Romero and another student reportedly created a petition demanding that the district take action against a teacher whom multiple students had accused of sexual misconduct.
The Oakland school district is reportedly creating an additional sex education curriculum for high school students which focuses on consent. The new curriculum, a refresher course for 10th through 12th grade students, will first be taught at Oakland Tech and then progress to other schools within the district.
In the U.S., someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds, according to the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). Furthermore, RAINN estimates that one out of every six women in America will be the victim of either an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Those at the highest risk for rape and sexual assault include individuals between the ages of 12 and 34.
A sexual assault civil suit seeks to recover financial compensation for the survivor. Separate from any criminal proceedings (and with the outcome of one not having an effect on the other), sexual assault civil lawsuits can be a means of obtaining justice for a survivor and helping them recover the maximum financial compensation they deserve for various damages.
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Some of the common damages that may be recoverable through a sexual assault civil lawsuit include:
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