From the May-June 2019 issue of News and Letters
by Buddy Bell
When a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland learned her male classmates were keeping a ranked list of her and other girls based on looks, she and two friends told an administrator. When one boy was given only a one-day suspension, the girls texted other classmates, telling them to text everyone they knew. At lunchtime, 40 girls showed up in the principal’s office. Nicky Schmidt read from their agreed-on text: “We want to know what the school is doing to ensure our safety and security. We should be able to learn in an environment without the constant presence of objectification and misogyny.” On March 8, together with male classmates, the girls described their experiences of sexual harassment, in school and out. The school approved a 45-minute session, but the meeting went for two and a half hours. The senior class has since collaborated to organize a pop-up museum and to give training to younger students on how to counter toxic masculinity.
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The dress code at the K-8 Charter Day School near Wilmington, N.C., required all girls to wear skirts or jumpers. Students in 2016 presented a petition signed by over 100 classmates opposed to this policy, but the school confiscated the petition. Three families sued. On March 30, after three years, a federal court found the dress code unconstitutional.
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Graduate students at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, were on hunger strike in February against administrators who, after cancelling graduate student stipends in the summer of 2018, reinstated them, only to cancel them again. The university caved once more on Feb. 24. Weeks later, other students who rely on meals provided at SPPU spotted worms in the gravy on March 17, 19 and 20. A registrar would later tell the Daily Mirror that the dining hall was operating over its capacity, “hence quality is compromised.” About 50 students demonstrated for better quality food on March 30.
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Graduate student teaching assistants for the University of Illinois at Chicago went on strike from March 19 until April 5. Fundamental to their demands was an end to fee increases. Since the teaching assistants are paid by
UICUF members caucusing at the Bargaining Session
tuition waiver, the university kept tuition steady for several years, but added various fees.