Berkeley High students plan protest over perceived 'rape culture'

Some students at Berkeley High School plan to walk out of class on Monday to protest what they call a failure by the school's administration to properly address sexual assault accusations and a school that allows “rape culture” to persist.

Recently, Berkeleyside reported that graffiti was found on a school bathroom stall door that listed names of  “Boys to watch out for," labeling some as “rapists.”

The school's principal told Berkeleyside that staff has been meeting with students. But in a letter, Erin Schweng also said students can only be suspended or expelled if the incident happens on campus. Those legal limits on what adults can do can lead to a perception among students that the school doesn’t care about or isn’t addressing serious issues, she said.

A group of students wrote up a list demands they want from the administration, on how to deal with students accused of sexual assault. In conversations and on social media, students have said the latest events are symptoms of a “systemic rape culture” the school has failed to address for years

On Friday, a girl known only as Jane Doe sued Berkeley Unified School District and individual staffers for allegedly failing to report or adequately address an attempted rape reported on the Berkeley High campus in May 2019, Berkeleyside first reported.

The lawsuit calls into question whether staff is following mandatory reporting laws and district policies for incidents that do occur on campus.

A school mandated reporter did alert the Berkeley police about this incident on May 14, 2019, Berkeley police Officer Byron White told Berkeleyside. But because of privacy concerns, police declined to say more.