X-Block Focuses on Sexual Harassment and Assault


Theo Boehm

Students listen in on the X-Block conversation in CM on December 13th.

Cecilia Barron, Editor-in-Chief

On December 13th, CRLS had its third X-Block of the year. While previous X-Blocks were focused on mostly school-related topics such as bullying, the topic this month was about an issue which takes place both inside and outside of school: sexual harassment and assault. Student Body President Grace Austin and President of Sisters on the Runway Robie Scola took part in planning the X-Block. They said they wanted to facilitate a discussion about sexual harassment and sexual assault in the wake of events happening within the wider American culture, but also within CRLS itself.

Maya Counter, a junior at CRLS, predicted that the conversations originally came about because of the recent Kavanaugh hearings which reignited the entire #MeToo conversation, as a Supreme Court nominee was accused of sexual assault as a teenager: “It seems that the idea of the X-Block might have been inspired from this year’s political climate, and one can’t help but think back to a month ago, with [the] Kavanaugh hearing. It did have a quite a bit of impact on CRLS.”

Austin said that while political happenings like the Kavanaugh trial had a big impact on their decision to have the X-Block, the planning team wanted to focus the conversation on CRLS. The harassment and assault which happens in the workplace stems from a culture which is present in high school: “People’s values and treatment of others is molded by the people around them, and we need to address how treatment in classrooms, hallways, at parties, on social media, and in every other context differ,” Austin said. Scola and Austin knew the topic wouldn’t be an easy one to talk about. In fact, they didn’t want it to be: “When you are addressing issues like sexual harassment and microaggressions, you aren’t going to be able to have a constructive conversation where everyone feels comfortable. Discomfort is an essential part of addressing bias, ignorance, and empathy that we shouldn’t avoid in conversations.”

Counter thought that this X-Block was particularly important because it gave everyone “the chance in our community to voice their opinions about the issue.” She thought it was particularly important that the voices of girls and women were heard in the hour-long Community Meeting.

Andrew Sullivan, a sophomore, understood that the topic could be sensitive, but felt that his homeroom dealt with it well: “People were respectful of each other.” However, the students involved felt that the conversation wasn’t specific enough to their experiences at CRLS. Austin said, “As a school, it is important to take specific incidents and address them directly. I think that we haven’t yet achieved that, but need to if we are to hear everybody’s perspectives and truly self-assess our respect and treatment of others.” While the conversation may not have “[changed] many people’s minds,” as Counter said, it did get “a lot of people discussing [sexual assault].”

Sullivan agreed, remarking that though the conversation didn’t introduce any radically different idea, the X-Block might help influence the greater culture within the school and “get more people to stand up if they see anything bad in the hallways.”

Satchel Schiavo also contributed to this article.

This piece also appears in our December 2018 print edition.