U-32 Clubs Seek to Raise Awareness of Sexual Assault

This article was written by Freshman Elise O’Brien, a student in The Chronicle and journalism class here at U-32.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled Brian Albee’s last name as “Alby.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The Conversation and MOST clubs are collaborating to make the most of this opportunity to educate people at U-32.

 

Later in April, The Conversation and MOST will collaborate on a presentation about sexual violence. “We’re getting MOST to speak as male voices and show that sexual violence happens to all genders, not just women,” said Willow Mashkuri, co-leader of The Conversation.

 

On April 12th, there will be a callback hosted by MOST and The Conversation. In the weeks before April 12th, there will be informational tables in the atrium during a few different lunches. There will be posters and flyers about this throughout the school.

 

Willow says the callback is to raise awareness about sexual assault and rape. She is hoping members of MOST will join her in speaking out about this issue. She encourages everyone to invite their friends, get the word around, and participate.

 

One of the posters made by MOST and The Conversation

 

Both groups are also making flyers and posters to try to get people to learn about this issue. They want to make this information more “in your face” and known.  They all agree that the first step to changing our community’s culture is knowledge.

 

At a collaborative meeting between the two clubs, they discussed other possible strategies to get people to listen. One thing they decided would stand out is statistics, because you can’t argue with them. They also discussed making videos or posting on school social media about sexual assault and rape.

 

Having men’s voices on this issue is crucial because men can often not be very involved. “We are collaborating on this because we feel like sexual assault doesn’t just pertain to women,” said Kalypso Anderson-Melekos, a member of The Conversation.

 

Ultimately, The Conversation and MOST have similar goals in mind. “There is a difference, but I think these two clubs should be together a lot more because statistics show that men are a lot of what’s causing the harm, and MOST is doing their best to create different cultures,” said Willow.

 

“The Conversation is a club all about creating a good environment sexually and mentally for relationships,” said Willow. The club works with Mosaic. It is a community group based out of Barre that aims to “heal communities and end sexual violence.” The Conversation works toward doing the same thing at U-32.

 

The Conversation also has to address difficult realities. “When there are moments of sexual violence because it can happen, sadly, we have the community to make it a place where people can come out and we can support them,” said Willow.

 

For Willow, taking action is very important. “We can all make observations about how rape is bad, but what can we do to fix it?” This is what she challenges students to think about when talking about sexual assault and rape.

 

Nick Holquist acknowledges that while The Conversation is for everyone, there aren’t very many men who sign up. “MOST is trying to bring male-identifying people into that conversation and trying to get them involved in that work,” said Nick, one of the faculty advisors of MOST in the high school.

 

Nick Holquist teaching Owen Spooner, a 9th-grade student

 

“The goal of MOST club is to build a community in which people who identify as male can talk about, investigate, and think about, what is healthy masculinity?” said Nick. MOST stands for Men of Strength.

 

MOST club is relatively new. Nick Holquist, Mark Brown, Brian Albee, Steve Sheeler, and Corey Robbins volunteered to bring this club to U-32 in the spring of 2023. They were sent to training to learn about what they would be teaching. “[The club] was designed by people trying to prevent sexual assault in schools in Washington, D.C.,” said Nick.

 

The group of people who designed it is called MCSR (Men Can Stop Rape). They eventually spread and became a national organization.

 

“I joined because I thought it was a really cool concept and toxic masculinity is such a huge problem in our culture at U-32 and just society in general. I thought it was a good opportunity to try and do my part in combating it,” said Tucker O’Brien, a member of MOST. This is the reason a lot of students joined the club.

 

“We have a society that doesn’t educate young men unless we make a special effort,” said Mark Brown, a faculty advisor of MOST club. The club’s goal is to combat this and teach young men about their place in this issue.

 

On Friday, March 15th, a few members of The Conversation attended the MOST meeting. They read a paper on facts about sexual assault and rape and discussed it.

 

According to RAINN, sexual assault and rape affect many groups of people, especially women, men, Native Americans, inmates, and people in the military. Chances are, everyone knows at least one person who has been sexually assaulted or raped.

 

RAINN offers lots of statistics about sexual assault, including the following:

  • In America, someone is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds
  • Women ages 18-34 are most at risk for sexual assault and rape
  • 1 in 6 women in America are raped or sexually assaulted
  • 1 in 33 men in America are raped or sexually assaulted
  • Sexual assault and rape survivors are at a higher risk of developing drug addictions, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, depression, and much more
  • Survivors are also at risk of pregnancy and STIs from the rape

 

A lot of this was surprising information. “It was interesting how everyone knows someone who has been a victim.  I never really thought of it that way,” said Jacob Aldrich, a member of MOST.  Learning new things like this is what MOST club is all about.

 

Advisors can also learn along with the students. One thing the paper mentioned is that 10%-20% of men are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. “It’s kind of staggering to me,” said Brian Albee, a faculty advisor of MOST club.

 

Students in The Conversation and MOST both hope their efforts and presentations will improve and educate our community.  Willow said, “It’s great to learn about and [the presentation] will only take around 45 minutes of your day.”

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