Sexual Assault Walkout

Students Gather in Protest of Inaction

Juliana Vandermark, Around School Editor

At 8:10 AM on Friday, May 17th, CRLS students walked out of class and gathered at the main entrance to protest sexual assault.

Senior Gilli Danenberg, the organizer and leader of this event, explained that the idea for the walkout came to her spontaneously while she was on vacation with her friends. When she arrived back in Cambridge, Danenberg didn’t waste a second: “I sprinted from home to school, it was like 12:30 PM or something . . . and I was just kind of like, ‘I need to do something. I need to have something be heard.’”

Students and faculty gathered around the front of the school despite the rain and spent the first ten minutes raising posters above their heads, donning teal ribbons to show support for victims of sexual assault. The objective was to support and listen to survivors as well as protest the administration’s inaction on issues of sexual assault.

As people gathered, victims of sexual abuse were invited to write details about their experiences on the cement bench in chalk, and everyone was encouraged to participate in a welcome activity with their neighbors to get to know who was at the walkout and why they were there. Danenberg welcomed everyone and took time to explain the processes of mandated reporting at CRLS to alert students who are under 18; if they wanted to share their stories, the school would be obligated to take certain actions if they heard.

When I was talking, I looked up and I saw people actively listening and caring, and it was really supportive.

— Mia Galante '21

The organizers then read a poem by Rupi Kaur and led the group in a moment of silence to reflect on why they were there, whether in support of victims or as victims themselves. CRLS a capella group Sassafras then performed two songs, “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child and “Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae. Danenberg then opened up the mic for people to share their stories. Initially, this portion was scheduled for just an hour, but as each student and staff member shared their stories, more and more volunteered to hold the mic, with friends behind them in support. Junior Alice Jacobs said that it was “disappointing to hear how many people had stories.” Junior Nacie Loh agreed, adding that it was “inspiring to see people speaking out and taking power back.”

In regards to administration support of the walkout, Danenberg concluded, “I just think they could’ve been a lot more supportive, especially with the students. … If they aren’t supportive, they just don’t understand how difficult it is and how much of a real problem it is.” Danenberg also said that adults at CRLS have expressed shock that sexual assault happens to so many students. “This is why we need to have a day like this.”

“Overall, there was a lot of support from the student body at Rindge,” Danenberg explained. After the walkout, junior Hersh Kanner reflected, “I thought it was extremely powerful, and as someone who [hasn’t] experience[d] [sexual abuse], it was really good to know that it was there.”

Mia Galante ’21 was one of the students who decided to step up and share her story after hearing others share. Galante described her experience as scary, but she said students were more supportive than she had anticipated. “It was really scary for me, and I didn’t want anyone to think negatively of me because of it. … But when I was talking, I looked up and I saw people actively listening and caring, and it was really supportive. After I spoke, people came up to me like ‘thank you for sharing,’ and giving support and I saw that happening with a lot of other people who spoke,” Galante explained. “It really built a community.”


This piece also appears in our May 2019 print edition.