SGA unveils new initiative to combat sexual misconduct


Maya Bravo and Oliver VanArsdale

The Student Government Association (SGA) plans to introduce a sexual harassment awareness initiative this January. As part of the initiative, the SGA is organizing three activities to educate the Wilson student body.

Junior Secretary Rachel Wallach says SGA action was sparked by an Instagram post made in late September by Wilson sophomore Stella Schwartzman, who condemned sexual harassers and expressed sympathy with victims. Wallach and Junior Class Vice President Eliza Dahlkemper said that the negative responses to the post inspired them to take action against sexual misconduct.

While Wallach doesn’t believe that sexual harassment is a major issue at Wilson specifically, she thinks that girls need to be prepared in high school for navigating difficult situations in the future.

The SGA is planning to hold a discussion forum at the beginning of the new year. As part of the forum, participating students will be shown a compilation of YouTube videos on the topics of awareness, personal experiences with harassment, and the Me Too movement.The SGA will sell concessions and snacks, with proceeds going to a charity that benefits assault survivors or raises awareness about harassment. The presentation will be followed by a guided conversation open to all Wilson students.

The second event being planned is a self-defense class for girls and possibly boys, the details of which are yet to be developed. “The self defense class is a lot of what to do if you’re in an uncomfortable situation and how to deal with it,” Dahlkemper said. “A lot of high school students don’t really know about what is okay and what’s not, they’re trying stuff for the first time. So, we’re making this a priority because, as leaders of the student body, we want to make sure that everyone in the student body feels safe and secure and that they don’t get hurt.”

For the last of the three events, the SGA is hoping to bring Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to come and speak about sexual harassment. In recent years, Senator Gillibrand has been a leader in sexual harassment legislation reform and became nationally prominent during the MeToo movement. Gillibrand remains a leading Democratic presidential candidate for 2020 and one of President Trump’s harshest critics in Congress. Wallach and Dahlkemper, however, believe that the chance of Gillibrand coming to Wilson is low.

The student body will be notified of details for various SGA sexual assault awareness events as they are established, both by social media postings on the SGA Instagram account and by posters placed around the school building.