Calling for Consent

Over the summer, the Boston Globe published an article detailing a sexual assault case in which a 19-year-old senior allegedly assaulted a 15-year-old freshman girl at St. Paul’s School. Her courage in bringing the story to the attention of the public has since served as a wakeup call for St. Paul’s to seriously reevaluate its policies and “hookup culture.”

This young woman’s story struck a chord for many of us in the newsroom, where we are awed and inspired by her courage, composure, and the clarity of thought that allowed her to hold her attacker accountable rather than blaming herself.

We like to believe that as an institution, we are not like St. Paul’s. We like to believe that Andover will protect us from all kinds of harm: physical, mental and emotional. But although no sexual assault cases have been publicized at Andover in recent history, as of last spring, 8.5 percent of our classmates – 67 students – reported that they had been sexually assaulted either on campus, off campus, or both, according to The Phillipian’s 2014 State of the Academy survey.

The situation at St. Paul’s is not only a terrifying instance of sexual assault in its own right: it is also a lens through which we can view, criticize and improve our own community, and the culture of entitlement that permeates so many private boarding schools. By doing so we take both a retrospective and proactive approach against sexual assault on our campus.

Speaking up and identifying one’s own victimization is a courageous act, but the key to addressing sexual assault is creating an environment in which victims of sexual assault feel safe coming forward. It is our obligation to do so, while remembering that victims should not have to come forward for our community to take a stance against sexual assault.

The Class of 2015 has grown from the inspiring leadership of our predecessors; in our final year here, we hope to lead and further the important discussions of sexual assault and consent, in addition to race, class, sexual orientation, mental health and gender. Only through continuous discussion will a change in mentality, actions and culture occur.

Incidents such as the one at St. Paul’s must never be allowed to repeat themselves, on Andover’s campus or on any other. 67 student victims of sexual assault is far too many–it is our job to make sure that statistic never reaches 68.

_This editorial represents the views of _The Phillipian _Editorial Board CXXXVII_.