#metoo in MCPS: dozens of sexual assault and harassment claims shared over social media

By Mary Ma

Trigger warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault.

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 if you need assistance. Help is confidential and free.

After the widespread allegations against Harvey Weistein in 2017, the #MeToo movement came to being. Recently, the movement has hit close to home, with sexual harassment and assault claims posted over social media by students, alum and other citizens of Montgomery County.

Instagram accounts such as @survivorsatwootton, @survivorsatbcc, @metoomoco and others are posting anonymous student submitted allegations. While @survivorsatwootton is keeping the alleged perpetrators anonymous, @metoomoco is posting names of perpetrators and occasionally pictures in an effort to warn students.

The claims belong to many schools as well as workplaces. Blair, Wootton, Richard Montgomery, Paint Branch, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Quince Orchard, and Magruder are a few of the schools that the claims belong to. From unsolicited nudes to rape, the stories are alarming. Some allegations were also directed towards teachers.

On June 26th, MCPS superintendent Jack R. Smith responded to the allegations. In the letter, Smith said, “…all allegations involving our schools and/or students that come to our attention will be investigated.” In the statement, he also urges students and parents who “have information regarding an alleged sexual assault” to contact the Montgomery County Police Department.

In another community message sent out July 1st, Smith elaborates on MCPS initiatives over the last five years combating sexual assault. He states, “As an immediate next step, I have asked our Director of Student Welfare and Compliance/Title IX Coordinator to lead a process—involving all offices of our school system—to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted into each viable report, and to take the necessary steps in response to what we find.”

Administration across schools have responded in different ways. At Montgomery Blair High School, where the movement originated and gained significant traction, many students have called on Principal Renay Johnson via Twitter to respond. Johnson did not respond and instead, blocked a few vocal Blair students. 

Many petitions involving sexual assault in MCPS have also emerged online. One notable one is the Change.org petition to make a scheduling tool that prevents survivors being put into the same class as their abuser. The petition has over 15,000 signatures.

In an interview with @metoomoco over Instagram DM, they clarify aspects of the #MeToo movement in MCPS. Here’s what they said:

What is the purpose behind this initiative?

Our purpose is to provide a safe space for and amplify the voices of survivors in MCPS who have oftentimes been ignored (or worse) by their school and community.

How has the administration across MCPS responded to the cases?

So far, MCPS has released a statement about the sexual assault cases but it was fairly empty. Across many schools in the county, students have been silenced and belittled by the administration and teachers meant to help them. 

How have moco students responded?

The majority of moco students are very grateful to have this platform. Being believed and supported can be life-changing for some survivors. Of course, we receive some backlash from those accused and anonymous accounts.

Do you agree with the way MCPS has been handling sexual assault?

I think MCPS has done a poor job handling the sexual assaults. Before this, almost all cases were brushed under the rug. Survivors are often attacked or belittled by their own schools admin. I also think that MCPS largely missed the point in their letter. They asked people to share anonymous tips of SAs, something I disagree with since not every survivor may want to press charges. A survivor’s story should be their own.

Resources:

Immigration versus 21 Savage

By Anjali Natarajan

Recently, rapper 21 Savage has been in the news, and it is not for his music. After being detained by Immigration and threatened with deportation, he, along with his fan base, has been uncertain about his own future. His story sheds light on all the moving parts of immigration right now, as well as how his voice can help others in the same position.

The rise to fame with 21 Savage was with his mix tape, The Slaughter Tape, released in 2015. Since then, his singles and collaborations with artists like Post Malone have risen quite high, if not number one, on the charts. With this success, however, came scrutiny as well. The 26 year-old’s car was pulled over by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents on February 3 in Atlanta, Georgia. DEA then gave him to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials, and ICE started papers for deportation on the grounds of overstaying a visa that had expired in 2006. 21 Savage’s massive audience found out that he was not originally from Atlanta, as they had believed; rather, he was an immigrant from the United Kingdom. Currently, his proceedings are on hold, and no one is aware of when they might continue.

This story is reminiscent of many immigrants with the same issues, though 21 Savage has a bigger platform than many to speak about the problems that he and others face. With this platform, many activists are hoping that he can bring a new awareness and potentially even change to what they see as a broken system. According to Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, “much of how we are trained to think about immigration issuers in this country is that it’s a Latin X issue. Black immigrants are more likely to be detained than any other immigrant group solely because of their blackness.”

21 Savage is unlikely to be deported, as he has three U.S. born children and multiple members of his immediate family that are either citizens or lawfully residing. He also has been living in the U.S. for about 13 years and has taken steps to obtain a U visa before he was detained. Still, he says that his ICE detention was worse than when he went to jail, because with ICE there was a sense of “not knowing what was going to happen, or when it’s going to happen”.

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