I will not be defined by a letter

Students and faculty alike, stand together across West High in response to "The List".

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Strong. Amazing. Beautiful. Courageous. Determined. Fierce. We will not be subdued. We will not be attacked. We will not be broken. We will not be contained. We will not be docile. We will not falter.

A list grading 94 West High girls from A to F, and a separate column S, was released on Oct. 18. The list was a spreadsheet created by three junior boys, and spread quickly throughout the school and social media when it came out.

Social Studies Teacher Megan Johnson, heard about the list from a student of hers the day it was released.

“My initial reaction was [..] a weird mixture of shock, and just not being that surprised,” Johnson said, “[..]I just feel like this is some like weird rite of passage for high school boys. I was kind of not surprised, but at the same time I was just really like, why did this happen here?”

Johnson took action immediately, helping plan a meeting with students and faculty to discuss what happened and what actions the school should take from there. The group created inspirational posters to display around the school, in hopes of letting students know that the list was not okay, and that students and faculty would be there to support them.

“I do recognize that the school to some degree is limited in its ability to control the actions of students,” Johnson said. “I think that this is one incident, and certainly those boys should be held accountable, and then I think it needs to become a larger conversation about, just, respect, both when it comes to males and females.”

Johnson is not alone when it comes to believing that we as a school need to be more open with talking about sexual harassment. Lauren Upchurch ‘19, a student whose name appeared on the list, agrees.

“I think it is an issue, but I don’t think that people talk about it a lot, and I think that we need to talk about it more,” Upchurch said.“I can’t remember the last time that we had either an assembly or just talked about sexual harassment with [..] the classes.”

Not only did the girls feel that the school should have done better in responding to the list, many students found the punishment that the school gave the three boys – a two day suspension – to not be strict enough. Ellie Kouba ‘19, another victim of the list, believes that the punishment the school gave the boys wasn’t sufficient.

“I think that a suspension should be put in place, but I think another thing that they should have done was have them write an apology letter,” Kouba said, “Or maybe an in-school suspension, because I don’t understand the point of out of school suspensions when they’re just at home playing video games.”

As quick as the list had spread through the school, a counteract of praises and support spread just as quickly on social media. The Everyone is an A campaign, created by Lucy Polyak ‘19, grew popular as students and supporters posted pictures with captions using the #EveryonesAnA. The campaign and responses to the list were covered by  local news sources, like the Little Village, which you can view here

Despite the recent obstacles posed from the list, students and faculty have worked together to make sure that everyone feels supported and comfortable in their own skin.

“I think you should just be yourself and know that there will always be people there to have your back,” Upchurch said. “What three people say doesn’t define you, you define yourself.”

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