The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) discussed many topics at the October 6 meeting, including Title IX issues and recent sexual assault cases at Berkeley High School (BHS). The meeting began with several BHS seniors reading “Loren’s story,” as they titled it, which detailed Loren McErlane’s experience with sexual assault and reporting. The students included Loren McErlane herself, Abby Lamoreaux, and several others.
“When I was a freshman in BHS, I was constantly sexually assaulted by two boys,” said the first student speaker. “It was hard to figure out what to do because reporting any of this would come with social consequences.”
She mentioned that the boys physically assaulted her on many occasions, going as far as to choke her and pull her hair. She decided to speak up and went to several offices on campus, including the Health Center, On Campus Intervention (OCI), and even the Sports Administration offices, but found all of them to be unresponsive and almost oblivious to her reports.
The next year, the school even placed her in the same small learning community and classroom as one of her aggressors.
When McErlane tried to report this, an administrator gave her a complaint form to fill out. When she pointed out that she hadn’t gotten a complaint form to fill out the previous year, the administrator mentioned she didn’t know how to file a sexual assault report.
“We ask again that the BUSD stop harming and creating an environment that pushes students not to report and to tell their friends to not report because the system assaults them further,” Lamoreaux said.
Lamoreaux also said it is the students’ expectation to have BUSD staff members be fully trained to handle issues of sexual assault and harassment.
The members of the board said that they “thanked the brave students” and said it was “disappointing” that the district had yet to find a way to find a solution to this issue.