My experience at the FHS’s sexual assault protest

Jael Ramirez, Opinion editor

On August 21, there was a protest at Fremont High School (FHS) trying to spread awareness about the ongoing sexual assault at FHS. Recently, Fremont has encountered many students speaking out in anger about how they’ve handled past and recent sexual assault cases. In one specific case, a student came forward on a anonymous twitter account  @MakeSocietySafer dedicated to sharing the sexual assault stories of current and former students from multiple Bay Area high schools including FHS. In a situation of constant sexual and physical harassment one twitter user stated “The reason they did nothing was because my friend is white and the kids that were bullying him were mexican. They said that if they get the kids in trouble it would look like the school is being racist and they of course don’t wanna ruin their reputation. So he had to move schools.”  This was among the many experiences shared on the twitter account directed to FHS.

I am very disappointed in how I see Fremont handling their sexual assault cases and how it appears to me that they continue to push away their responsibility. 

I was hesitant to attend this protest because I was afraid of getting triggered as I’m a survivor of sexual assault and have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and feared I would have a panic attack and cause a scene.  It took days of contemplation and talking to my therapist before I realized that this protest wasn’t about me. It was about all the survivors who didn’t get their justice. It was about standing up for them and giving them a voice and making FHS realize that they cannot get away with disrespecting their students and letting assaulters free without consequence. 

   I arrived on time at 4 P.M. and was one of the first people there. At first, there wasn’t much of a crowd but everyone was still socially distanced and had their masks on; but that didn’t stop us from encouraging one another. A KQED reporter had arrived and was interviewing protestors and making observations. As time went on more and more people were joining our protest and the constant support and encouragement everyone was receiving from one another was overwhelming. I felt safe and my anxiety was calming down. I was surrounded by people who weren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and others. 

We walked to the edge of school in front of the crosswalk on the intersection of E Fremont Avenue and Sunnyvale-Saratoga Rd. We held our posters up and watched as people in cars would stare at our posters reading the message we were sharing. A girl had brought a megaphone and started speaking about FHS’s irresponsibility and ableism. People who stopped at the red light would honk at us as a form of encouragement. They took photos of our poster and of course we did have some negative reactions. One guy stopped his car, flipped me off and drove away. I was definitely shocked but laughed at how uneducated and silly this man was acting. Other protesters had passerbys shout “TRUMP 2020” at them, which I found odd. This was followed by many other people giving us the middle finger. Despite this, we remained peaceful. Our protest was not to start a riot but to peacefully give our message and demand for help. 

I had the opportunity to speak into the megaphone and it was definitely empowering. I was able to express myself and talk about my perception that FHS has failed to protect its students. After seeing many people come forward and claim that FHS did not do their job I feel disappointed in FHS. In my opinion, they failed to give justice to survivors and protected assaulters.

Overall, my experience at my first protest was eye opening; it definitely won’t be my last. Mentally doing these things is not easy for me, but I know it is the right thing to do. I hope FHS uses this protest as a sign to change and start doing better.