Shattering Rape Culture


Photo by Grace Yarrow

Elizabeth Wang and Emet Beckman

The PEaCE class is an environment where students learn about philosophy and apply it to their own lives. Todd Siders, the current teacher and supervisor, speaks on why he wanted to form the PEaCE (Philosophy, Ethics, and Community Engagement) class in the first place.

“I wanted students to be involved in the community as a capstone for the Social Justice Academy, which is now dead, and I wanted a class that would allow students to discuss philosophy because I know that students really like philosophy,” said Siders.

However, this class evolved into something larger; it has become an outlet for students to express their pent-up emotions and past struggles with a variety of shunned topics. Siders recalls one year when students came forward to talk about their past experiences.

“Two [students] came out as survivors, and if I remember correctly, students approached the groups when they were doing their [project] with similar stories,” said Siders.

This year’s class, consisting of five committees: Campus Safety, Immigration, LGBTQIA+, Rape Culture, and Sex Trafficking, chose to revisit a topic that society has recently become more conscious of, rape. Jeareiri Mejia, a student part of the Immigration Committee, strongly advocates for schools to incorporate rape culture awareness into their curriculum, as it remains to be unknown or ignored by a majority of society.

“[In] the present time we, as a country, are struggling a lot with [rape], and I just think that it is talked about, but it isn’t talked about enough. We know it happens, we know it’s a problem, but we don’t do anything about it. I just think that it, our society, just lets that go over our heads,” said Mejia.

She further continues to voice her opinion about why society continues to be ignorant of this subject.

“We don’t have a definition that people can go off of… and they need one,” said Mejia.

Rape culture has and will continue to be a delicate issue that society will never resolve; however, these determined students are willing to take that step forward to encourage change to happen. Yet, despite the positive support from the administration, both Siders and Mejia have acknowledged the wide range of responses — positive and negative — that they may receive.

“It will start conversations. I think that it will raise awareness, I think it might trigger people both negatively and positively; that’s possible with a controversial topic like this,” said Siders.

Mejia expects similar results to those of Siders’.

“I think a lot of people are going to be uncomfortable, and some people are going to be mad. I think we’re going to go through a lot of challenges because some people might be uncomfortable with it. Some people might not want to talk about it,” said Mejia.

These challenges do not spurn the students’ passion; they continue to strive to leave an impact on the students. The class continues to push towards their goal of spreading awareness throughout the campus and expanding to the HI classrooms, and even to Kenilworth. For more information about the class and committees, you can go to room R3 during second period to talk to the students.