Sexual Misconduct at Westtown: Highlighting its Discrepancies

Amelia Eager '23, Editor

The Opinion Board, very recently used to protest Westtown’s sexual misconduct inconsistencies.

Sexual assault and misconduct is a prevalent issue at Westtown that needs to be addressed. During the spring of last year, the school had weekly conversations about the topic but yet the student perception was that nothing was done. Once again these conversations sparked because of a recent opinion board post, highlighting Westtown’s discrepancies regarding the misalignment between the culture and the policies. Kate Dolan ‘24, an author of the post, was motivated to write by a recent experience of another author who wanted the public to understand the prevalence of sexual misconduct on campus. Dolan highlighted the student body’s response to the post and how it affected her and the other authors. “There were two responses to the post.The first was a sign of joint trauma and bonding with other survivors. People were coming up to me asking if they could share their stories with me, which was pretty cool. The second was a general defensiveness, specifically from East end. Especially on the day it was posted, I would hear comments like ‘that isn’t about me’ or ‘that never happened.’ Overall, there was just a general lack of reflection,” Dolan said. 

The boarders living on East End felt the opinion board post was directed towards them. Boarder Josiah Moore ‘23 talked about his view on the culture around sexual misconduct as someone who lives on E3. The Boarders on East End felt unjustly accused. Moore said, “Honestly, no. When it first happened there was an awareness about it, but quickly they [other east end Boarders] just started finding excuses for their actions. There’s currently no change, and if I’m being honest I don’t think it’ll change for a really long time.”

One of the issues that the opinion board post brought attention to is the lack of involvement from the school administration after incidents occur. Teacher Maria Alonso, Dean of Integrated Health and Wellness, is one of two people on campus that have the training to deal with sexual misconduct situations. However, when a case is brought to the school’s attention, Teacher Maria isn’t involved. “Historically, I am told that it’s a disciplinary issue. It goes straight to the dean’s office where it’s considered an investigation. At times, if someone is emotionally distraught then I will help,”  Alonso said. According to Alonso, only one Health Center staff member is trained in SANE  (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), Nurse Theresa. This means that unless Teacher Maria or Nurse Theresa are asked to be involved, there is no one equipped to handle cases of sexual misconduct on campus. Ultimately, Westtown needs to have adults trained to handle sexual misconduct if they are to be handling cases.