This video, made by Brea Kaye, a past member of our steering committee and BHS alumni, explains who we are and what we stand for. It includes information about our definition of sexual harassment, our school district's current policies, and statistics that demonstrate the prevalence of sexual harassment in high schools everywhere. It was filmed at our first teach-in.
We are BHS (Berkeley High School) Stop Harassing. We are Berkeley High students and adult advisors working to change the culture at BHS and beyond around sexual harassment and violence. We want BHS to be a model of a high school where all students feel safe and respected.
Our work is urgent because this is a pressing problem at our school, where support is minimal and there is very limited access to services for victims of harassment; and virtually no training for school staff or students on the issue. We seek to engage school and district administration decision makers to immediately address shortcomings in the school environment that create an unsafe learning environment and impede student success.
Why is BHSSH not a Club?
People have asked why Berkeley High School Stop Harassing (BHSSH) is not a club. Here’s why:
1. Our name is a call to action. It demands that Berkeley High School stop sexual harassment. Our name makes clear that the harm that we are addressing and the culture that we are working to change is what we see here, in our school, every day. So while “BHS” is in our name, the school is not our sponsor but rather the institution that we are trying to improve.
2. Our structure lets us create a safe space for survivors. We advocate for survivors of sexual harm, and often hear sensitive stories at our meetings. Victims do not always want to report what has happened to them, and BHS SH provides a space for them to learn their options before doing so. Being a club means that a teacher will be present at all meetings. A teacher advisor would be mandated to report sexual harm discussed at meetings, taking away the victim’s choice and potentially retraumatizing them.
3. Our structure helps us work long hours to make change. We meet about twice as many hours as most clubs - during lunch on Fridays and for two hours every other Sunday. If we were a club, it would be more difficult to meet on Sundays, which would limit the many hours that BHS SH members spend working to improve our school culture.
4. Our structure allows us access to outside advisors. While clubs primarily receive advice from teacher sponsors, BHS SH student activists work with not only with BHS staff but with other grassroots organizations and two BHS parents with a wealth of advocacy experience around sexual harassment.
5. It is our right and our mission to organize a grassroots movement of student activists. We do not have to form a club to advocate for what we believe. By being an unaffiliated organization, we are exercising our ability to speak up and organize for change in our community.
Our Leadership Team
Co-Presidents: Emily Levenson (12th grade) and Ella Miles-Urdan (11th grade)
Treasurer/Merchandising: Justice Paraiso-Caceres (12th grade) and Mai Li Spencer (12th grade)
Outreach Coordinators: Mackenzie Nye (12th grade) and Kira Norwood (10th grade)
Media Coordinators: Catherine Sutton (12th grade) and Uma Nagarajan-Swenson (12th grade)
Policy Coordinator: Abby Steckel (12th grade)
Researcher: Sadie Fleig (9th grade)
Secretary: Zoë McDonald (12th grade)
- We were founded in the fall of 2014 in response to a comment during the annual Welcome Assembly that linked girls' inappropriate dress to sexual harassment.
- We are a grassroots organization, not officially affiliated with Berkeley High.
- Our group is comprised of students and two adult advisors.
- We meet every other Friday at lunch in Ms. Anderson's room (C224) and Sundays from 1:30 to 3:30pm at the East Bay Media Center.