Berkeley High School students demand changes to what they say is a 'culture of rape'

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Berkeley High students protest 'rape culture' on campus
1,000 students from Berkeley High School took to the streets Tuesday to demand changes in what they described as a "culture of rape" on campus.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- 1,000 students from Berkeley High School took to the streets Tuesday to demand changes in what they described as a "culture of rape" on campus.

Students made demands and administrators really listened as girls talked about how they have to endure being in class with boys who they say attempted to assault them and feeling like they have nowhere to turn.

Chanting: "What do we want? Safe schools. When do we want it? Now."

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Berkeley high school students walked out of class at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and peacefully marched down University Avenue to the school district offices.

"They walked through all three stories of the district offices and at one point they sat down in the hallway. They were chanting, making demands," said Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Brent Stephens.

The superintendent invited them into school board chambers where several hundred vented their frustration.

"We are scared. I don't like that my high school feels like a war zone. We are all trying to survive. A girls got pulled into a classroom and raped for god sake," said student body president Lexi Tesch.

That reported incident dates back to last May. Last week, students say they resorted to writing names on bathroom stalls of male students they feared. And a female student sued the district over how they handled her attempted rape case.

"I understand you can't be expelling students on accusations alone. But there are actions that can be taken by the schools, schedule changes, eligibility for sports teams," said Student Ligaya Chinn.

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"My consent education at Berkeley High School was a video on a cup of tea. It cannot be boiled down to something so simple," said Student Eva Worley. "And it's also something kids need to learn about from sixth grade on. Because this was happening to me in middle school and I was unable to recognize it."

The crowd burst into thunderous applause.

The superintendent responded that he believed them.

"I know this is a constant challenge they face in their lives at school," said Superintendent Stephens.

The school district is promising to devote more thought and more resources to counseling and education about consent and the students will be back at next weeks school board meeting to articulate their specific demands.