Raising awareness of sexual assault

From left, heather Arpin, Cooper Bennett, Dylan McAndrews, and Connor Bettencourt talk to to the junior class about sexual assault. —Alexandra Barlett

By Curtis Fisher

Last Friday the junior class attended an assembly designed to raise awareness of sexual assault, continuing a tradition that was brought to MVRHS by Kaela Vecchia-Zeitz through her senior project entitled Stand With Everyone Against Rape (SWEAR). The program works to educate young men about their role in the epidemic of sexual assault and helps to shift the conversation of sexual assault from a woman’s problem to a man’s issue.

This year 15 junior boys and 5 junior girls were student leaders who participated in a day-long retreat in April, during which counselors at Connect To End Violence created discussions and engaged students in training with regards to sexual assault statistics and the importance of being active bystanders.

Ms. Kurtz said, “I am thrilled that we have a community of young men who will step up. This is an important message for them to share with the rest of the school.”

During the assembly the rest of the junior class was exposed to some of the same content the student leaders saw during the retreat. During the assembly, a survivor of sexual assault spoke to the students about her assault. Students broke into discussion groups following the assembly to process the presentation. While talking about it is an important first step, being aware of the signs that signal someone is in danger and stepping in to help is critical in reducing the number of sexual assaults.

Junior Evan Sauter said, “It made me realize how serious of a problem this is even in communities like ours, and I thought it was a very important experience for us juniors to have.”