Teachers, students, and administrators at Madison East High School are receiving new training on sexual violence. In a twist though, this time it’s students doing the teaching as a new sexual violence focus group works to educate the school.
The effort to address rape and other forms of sexual violence began in October, when students walked out to protest administrative inaction following the alleged rape of a teenager who attended the school.
East High senior TaMaya Travis spoke at the walkout, where she listed demands from students and teachers.
“Teachers, students, and admins are to receive trauma-informed training every year by the Rape Crisis Center. Meaning, it needs to include real student testimony and discuss power imbalances because our principal has decided to ignore every cry for help that we have given,” says Travis.
At the time, students also railed against their then-principal Sean Leavy, who was quickly reassigned and replaced by interim principal Mikki Smith weeks after the walkouts.
Yesterday, Smith sent out an email praising the students leading the effort to better inform the school community about sexual violence. In that email, Smith also announced new training aids, including student-created posters and video PSAs. Students are also building a training module to inform teachers about the correct procedure for reporting incidents of sexual violence.
Missy Mael is co-executive director at the Rape Crisis Center. She credits East High’s students with coordinating the effort.
“We’re working really closely with those students. Those students are absolutely incredible, they are driven, they are so smart, and so courageous. They tell us what they need and they come up with the tools they want to use and they tell the superintendent and the principle and we just help them develop them,” says Mael.
At the same time, Mael acknowledged that the rollout of the materials has proceeded more slowly than some students would like.
She adds that she encourages anyone who has experienced sexual violence and needs support to contact the Rape Crisis Center. The Rape Crisis Center operates an English-language hotline at (608) 251-7273. Their Spanish-language hotline can be reached at (608)-258-2567.