SALOMÉE LEVY, 17
Salomée Levy is French-Belizean youth activist and writer living in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a passion for race and gender studies. In 2016, she started Artsy Hands, a nonprofit that delivers art supplies throughout schools to save art programs in Nevada. The organization holds conversations about cultural art pieces, bringing students together to talk about race relations through art. More recently, she created “We the Immigrants,” a movement where immigrants around the nation share their experience as an immigrant through art and writing and have a writing mentor to help them pitch their articles to large organizations. Levy has been appointed by Senator Woodhouse to represent 48,000 youth in Nevada to combat education inequity and uses her leadership position to further give a voice to marginalized communities.
Last summer, Levy attended the six-week Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar at Cornell University to focus on Global Blackness and Sexuality. Levy has received the Billy Michal award, several art and writing awards, and the Congressional Silver Medal by Senator Jacky Rosen, and she has received recognition in the Las Vegas Sun newspaper for her nonprofit work. Levy has also been featured on the Robin Morgan show in the Women’s Media Center where she had a conversation with Senator Rosen about education and the importance of representation throughout the community.
Additionally, she has served as a United Nations Youth delegate and attended the Youth Assembly conference at the United Nations in February 2018. Levy wants to make sure every person with marginalized identities has a seat at the table and access to opportunity. She hopes to study international relations at Columbia University and use her education to become a Nevada Senator, and later, the first female prime minister of Belize.
Sexual Harassment Culture in CCSD Schools
by Salomée Levy
An excerpt from Sexual Harassment Culture in CCSD Schools
originally published on Student Voice on Medium.com
In March 2018, a soccer player groped a seventh grader without her consent. The seventh grader reported the case to the principal, but the principal only talked to the perpetrator and told them to “knock it off.” However, the same soccer player was caught juuling in the bathroom and received a suspension for “toxic substance presented on school campus.” The administration’s faults in this case was that they completely disregarded the sexual harassment incident and they were more concerned about the student juuling in the bathroom by himself over a case that harmed and affected another student’s mental health, academic performance, and behavior. The schools do not prioritize safety and the well being of students, but instead substances that can “harm the overall school’s public image”.
It is unacceptable that school officials brushed off the situation and did not care about the students. A school counselor at Clark High School responds to the cases by saying “There are too many students with mental health concerns or incidents of sexual harassment; in a school with over 3,000 students, we simply cannot help that many students with overwhelming reports.” The number of the student population should not be an excuse for disregarding these reports. There has been a dramatic surge in a number of students skipping school related to an incident revolving around sexual harassment that have been ignored. Along with the plausible dropout rates from sexual harassment towards the students, there is an increase in violent behavior. A teacher from Desert Pines observed a student’s behavioral change when they shared their incident revolving around sexual harassment, “There was a significant decline in my student’s work ethic; the student received a D average and may not be able to graduate.” The Clark County School District is considered one of the worst school districts in the nation with a graduation rate of 85%. Even though gratudation rates increased in 2018, the disregarded sexual harassment cases can reduce this graduation rate and may change behavior along with academic performance.
The CCSD reported a surge in violent behavior among students where there was a 55 percent increase in criminal and violent behavior from past incidents. Students who were sexually harassed at a younger age are more likely to express violent behavior because of the lack of resources offered at school. Victims of sexual harassment need resources; someone they can talk to, a reliable safe space, and justice.
Schools can change the pattern of disregarding sexual harassment repots onc ampus by taking more initiative in the situation instead of depending on SafeVoice. Noelle Masangkay, from University of Nevada Las Vegas, discusses the plethora of resources students receive when an incident revolving around sexual harassment occurs. “The University has several resources for victims, there are plenty of safe spaces in which you can confide to, but the Jean Nidetch Women’s Center is the biggest resource. When there is an incident that occurs, they send timely crime alerts to notify the entire school so others can stay vigilant.” The university informs the students of recent incidents which encourages cooperation with other students to keep the campus as safe as possible.
The President of the University of Nevada Las Vegas Marta Meana sent an email back in October in response to multiple harassment incidents. “The incidents on campus are deeply disturbing in that we simply cannot tolerate. This has to stop and everyone has to be a part of the solution. We are acting now.” The President’s email to over 20,000 students showed how the university responds to these situations immediately. In fact, when the perpetrator is not identified, they take the next step to simply “assert our values and let them know in uncertain terms that the conduct does not belong” and listen to student reports of who the possible perpetrators may be. CCSD school officials need to learn from the University of Nevada Las Vegas — the university has a larger student body and their policies and resources for victims of sexual harassment are much more effective. The CCSD campus needs to implement better policies that requires principals and the dean of students to act when there is an incident of sexual harassment. Teachers need to better communicate what is going on with their students and principals needs to discipline perpetrators regardless of their background.
It can also be helpful to have actual adult allies that listen and take the situation seriously. Teachers need to receive adequate training to respond to these situations and find ways to help the victim of sexual harassment and advocate on their behalf to the administration about the incident. A teacher at Chaparral High School offers emotional support; “I am all ears, but when there is an incidence of sexual harassment, us teachers need to respond by not only listening and nodding, but by pushing the admin to charge the perpetrator.” This teacher not only gives the students hope, but shows other teachers throughout the valley that this is something all teachers need to do. “Even though some may not be comfortable in handling incidents of sexual harassment, teachers should go through trainings or learn how they should handle the cases instead of brushing students off their sleeves.” It is a CCSD teachers job not only to teach for a student’s future, but to ensure the safety and well-being of a CCSD student. When the administration is ignoring the recent sexual harassment incidents, teachers need to step up and bring up the situation and push for disciplinary measures on the perpetrator. The more adult allies students have on campus, the safer they may feel; they can report their concerns and discuss them knowing they have someone to rely on.