[Due to frequent misreading and complaints I am removing three sentences that appeared here originally. This is a generic post and reading it as anything other is a misrepresentation of my intent here. This is not about a specific incident, but about general experiences I have had and that have been relayed to me.]
I’m ashamed to be a Patriot.
No, this isn’t about America (that’s an entirely different issue).
I’m ashamed to have been a member, if only for a year, of the Carroll community. I graduated from Carroll High School at the end of the 2013-14 school year. There’s no way I can deny that I received an excellent education. In fact, my English teacher is arguably the best teacher I’ve had from a purely academic standpoint. And I know that the teachers I had have good hearts. From my government teacher, to the gym teacher, to the prayer teacher and many more I never had the privilege to sit under. But I’m ashamed.
I’m pissed off.
When I attended Carroll I was stupid with my Twitter account. But, regardless, rumors had started before then. And after my Twitter account I was called into the administration’s office to talk to the Dean of Students. He was concerned about my safety. That’s all fine and good. But at no time were the students starting the rumors talked to. At no time were students talked to for harassment within earshot of a teacher. And I know this has happened. In fact, daily I saw men touching women without that woman’s consent. In a classroom, too. This can be a hug, playing with hair, anything, but guys have no right to do that. Were they dealt with? How does this make the community safe for women?
And now that I’m in college I’ve found out rumors have started about me again and my younger brothers are taking heat for it. Carroll, I expect more from you. But my experiences, as minor as they are, lead me to speak of something more serious that has come to my attention and a trend related to this.
This is a trend of victim punishment in numerous situation and letting the person commiting the abuse remain a student. This is about lack of pro-activity. This is about stigma. These are my suggestions, based on my experiences, the experiences of friends, and what I know of Carroll. These are not slanderous or defaming anyone. This is generic as can be.
I have a few things to say related to this to the administration and to the Carroll community, current and alumni/alumna.
1). To the administration: Expel the students who distributed the images. Start actually being proactive in dealing with harassment and bullying. Start taking it seriously and dealing with it swiftly. Don’t wait to just hear from a student. Be involved, don’t sit aloof. But most importantly please, please do not punish the victim for anything. Start teaching people that victim’s are never at fault. Catholicism has a history of siding with the oppressed, from Oscar Romero to Mother Theresa. Embrace that side of the faith you hold in such high regard. And start having mandatory sexual assault courses. Start teaching people about consent. Stop shaming people for their choices. And finally, love mercy and seek justice for victims, I say again.
2). To the students: stop circulating images of minors. Stop circulating images, stories or anything without express consent (this happens more often than not). Even then, don’t spread images which are revealing or harmful to the victim. Stop bullying. Stop being assholes. Start taking seriously the simple idea of: love other people. This means don’t start rumors. This means stop acting high and mighty because you went to PATS. This means stop using slurs. This means stop mocking mental health. This means not objectifying people. This means listening to others. This means remembering you’re in high school. This means what you do now could harm you and others for a life time. Start being decent. Have some respect. Respect the people around you. Respect yourself. And to the boys (I don’t even want to call you men) at Carroll, stop thinking with your genitals, stop using women for your gain. No means no. Alcohol means no. Start seeing women as human, too.
3). To fellow alumni/alumna: please hold your alma mater accountable. Demand justice. Demand that your community protect victims of sexual harassment and violence. Demand that mental health not be a stigma. Demand that sexual orientation, gender identity, personality, age, ability, religion, or appearance not be shamed. Demand that your alma mater become more proactive. Demand that those who bully/oppress/harass are punished and removed from the community. Make Carroll a safe place. Make it safer.
I think Carroll has potential. But if it isn’t a safe place then I have no reason to ever claim the greatness of it. As long as victims are hurt, as long as teachers remain aloof in the lunch room and in the locker rooms, as long as teachers see students as only educational objects and not humans on equal footing deserving of respect, as long as platitudes are spread, as long as the administration tries to soften truths and patronizes students, well, frankly, nothing is going to change anytime soon.