Whitman Large charity dance canceled owing to fears of bullying, harassment, sexual conduct

Ora Sawyers

This tale was current at 7:45 p.m. March 9, 2022, to include responses from Eliana Joftus.

Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda has canceled a charity dance because of to allegations of bullying, harassment and “inappropriate and potentially illegal habits of a sexual character,” in accordance to the school’s principal.

The Vike-A-Thon is usually held as aspect of the university student authorities association’s charity thirty day period effort and hard work, according to a letter Principal Robert Dodd despatched to the faculty local community on Tuesday.

Dodd cited a piece the pupil newspaper, The Black & White, released on “disturbing allegations involving the properly-being of our students” throughout previous dances. As a result, Dodd wrote, university administrators satisfied with pupil government leaders and made a decision “holding this event in gentle of these critical considerations would be inappropriate.”

The impression piece in The Black & White on Tuesday alleged a toxic “hookup” tradition in the previous at Vike-A-Thon. The title of the event is a reference to the school’s nickname, the Vikings.

In her piece, junior Eliana Joftus stated 1 university student who reported she was sexually assaulted at a earlier Vike-A-Thon, one more who explained they ended up sexually harassed and a single student who said older classmates “hooked up” with her at the party when she was 15.

Joftus wrote that alcohol and drug use also happens at Vike-A-Thon.

Dodd, in his letter, wrote that “the allegations contain bullying, harassment and inappropriate and perhaps unlawful habits of a sexual mother nature.”

“We are having these allegations really very seriously,” he wrote. “I will be operating with my administrative group and MCPS central business officers to thoroughly comply with our suggestions on reporting significant incidents of this mother nature.”

Dodd wrote that the college will be doing the job with county law enforcement “where needed to guarantee an satisfactory investigation is performed.” He was quoted in Joftus’ piece as expressing he has by no means acquired allegations of sexual misconduct at Vike-A-Thon due to the fact he joined the Whitman staff members in 2018 and they would be taken severely.

The piece rates Dodd indicating he has served supervise two Vike-A-Thon functions and would consider several visits all over the dance flooring to examine what pupils had been performing.

“In addition, any pupils who may well have been right or indirectly impacted by these incidents will have access to all accessible resources from our faculty workers and our companions in the Workplace of Spouse and children Engagement and Supports,” he wrote in his letter.

College student required to glow light on lifestyle at dance

Joftus, the daughter of Board of Schooling member Scott Joftus, told Bethesda Defeat Thursday afternoon that she was warned about Vike-A-Thon when she went to the event her freshman year.

“I just realized, Oh, there’s gonna be a ton of kids hooking up and there is gonna be kids drunk and high. And I just went in being like, ‘Ok, this is what I want to know,’” she claimed. “And then I realized at the time I was there just how gross that was. Like, why is no one particular conversing about this? Nobody was getting motion about it, either.”

Joftus, an impression author for The Black & White, explained she made the decision to create the piece right after conversing about it with one more good friend who functions on the paper.

“It’s about points that nobody was speaking about that a great deal of people today appear to be mindful of, and that’s why I believed it was so vital to have an posting that administrators could go through, moms and dads could go through, academics could browse and that each individual foreseeable future scholar at Whitman could go through,” she claimed.

Vike-A-Thon differs from other university situations, Joftus claimed, simply because it is college student-run and has more of a nightclub environment.

“People are acting more developed up, or they imagine some actions are a lot more acceptable, mainly because it doesn’t really feel like a faculty ecosystem. It feels like a nightclub celebration environment,” she mentioned.

Joftus said she put out a concept on Instagram asking no matter whether other pupils who had bad activities at Vike-A-Thon needed to be interviewed, assuring them that they could continue to be anonymous. (The piece notes that students’ 1st names have been transformed to keep anonymity.) Numerous ended up apprehensive about talking out, she claimed.

Finally, Joftus said she was grateful to the number of learners who talked to her.

“The interviews that I conducted … None of these cases have been officially reported, due to the fact it was just so normalized to the occasion, and that was this sort of a massive difficulty as well,” she said.

Joftus, 16, mentioned mentioned she’s gotten primarily constructive opinions because the piece ran on Tuesday. But she said that after various individuals left destructive feedback on The Black & White’s Instagram account, the remarks had been turned off.

She claimed she hopes that notice to the problem variations how sexual assault is dealt with at Whitman.

“It attracted a ton of focus, even if it was negative consideration. I just wanted as lots of people today to read through it and be aware of it as doable,” she stated.

Dan Schere can be reached at [email protected]

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