AWHS sexual harassment and assault task force outlines plans for the coming year

AWHS+task+force+works+to+raise+awareness+about+sexual+harassment+across+campus.

Ava Wilson

AWHS task force works to raise awareness about sexual harassment across campus.

During the turbulent 2020-21 school year, the AWHS Sexual Harassment Prevention Task Force shifted from a district-based to an on-campus initiative. With a return to in-person school, the group hopes to expand and improve its efforts.

Katrina Southard is the wellness coordinator and co-facilitator of the task force. In the fall of 2020, it was decided by Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) administration that sexual harassment and assault prevention task forces would make more of an impact if they were shifted from the district level to the campus level. The group has worked through wellness to educate and communicate with AWHS students using in-class presentations and posters around campus. 

The intent was to create a space for students’ voices to be heard as we try to influence and enforce school cultural norms around gender dynamics and sexual harassment on campus,”

— Katrina Southard

“The intent was to create a space for students’ voices to be heard as we try to influence and enforce school cultural norms around gender dynamics and sexual harassment on campus,” Southard said.

TUHSD employed AWHS administration to assist the efforts of the task force, hoping to make long-lasting administrative and policy changes. 

“As a site and district we thought it was important to have an administrator be there as well because a lot of it could lead to policy changes,” said Chad Stuart, AWHS Assistant Principal and sexual assault task force co-facilitator. 

In alignment with AWHS administration, the sexual assault and harassment task force wants to form a more organized initiative to change policy and set systemic standards. Educating, communicating and reporting are the things the task force wants to focus on when they meet in person later this year. 

The group is currently recruiting new members and wishes to build off of the foundation they created during the 2020-21 school year, but Southard is not satisfied with the level of male involvement in the task force. 

“My main frustration with the group last year is that we did not have any male students on the task force. I think having a male perspective and gaining buy-in among males would elevate our efforts significantly,” Southard said.

The Wellness Center and the Peer Resource student leadership group work together on sexual harassment prevention campaigns with classes like Social Issues, a one-semester course taken by ninth and tenth graders. However, Stuart believes this is not enough and wants to see information campaigns and sexual assault and harassment curriculum have a broader impact on school culture and policy. 

“Those are some key areas, then after that, it’s like, ‘How does that go to the bigger school?’, and that’s something we don’t know our next steps right now,” Stuart said.

In the coming months, the sexual harassment and assault task force’s goal is to recruit members and meet in person to implement their goals of educating the community about sexual assault and harassment.

 “The real change needs to happen within the inner-workings of student relationships and student norms, and this is an ongoing process,” Southard said.