Madison East students stage walkout in support of young woman allegedly raped by student
MADISON, Wis. — Students at Madison East High School staged a walkout Wednesday morning in support of a young woman they claim was raped by a student — demanding the school reform its policies around sexual assault.
East High School Senior Feliz Castaneda alleged the rape happened at a house party on homecoming Saturday but that school officials were notified soon after.
“We were mostly here just to say that we don’t want him in our school, we want to get the rapist…out of our school,” Castaneda said. “We want him suspended until he is prosecuted and of course we don’t want him coming back.”
Castaneda also said East Principal Sean Leavy didn’t share any information about what action could be taken against the students and that their concerns weren’t taken seriously when they were brought up.
“In the meeting he said ‘I know that you feel there has been a sexual assault’ and we were like ‘we know, we know there has been one’ and he was belittling out voices and belittling the stuff we were telling him and we just won’t stand for that anymore,” she said.
More than a hundred students gathered outside of the school in protest with signs that read “No means No.” and “We are not protected.” before leaving campus.
At the protest Wednesday, students also called for change in school policy around sexual assault for the removal of Principal Leavy from the school.
News 3 Now made multiple attempts Wednesday to reach district officials to confirm the rape allegations and find out how they are responding to those allegations and student concern but our messages left were unanswered.
MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds issued a statement Thursday morning saying it takes “a tremendous amount of courage” to challenge the district’s policies.
“We would like to thank MMSD School students who continue to lift their voices this week and over the years on sexual violence policies and protocols. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to engage adults in positions of authority, and we are extremely proud of our students who, through their advocacy and resolve, made their voices heard. Honoring students’ perspectives provides opportunity for growth as we continue to refine district policies and protocols,” the statement reads. “The safety, security, and well-being of all of our students remains our priority. As a district, we take reports of sexual violence very seriously. The district is partnering with Rape Crisis Center leadership to offer best practices, transparency and necessary supports to students and staff.”
The Madison Police Department was able to confirm that this is an active and ongoing investigation but would not reveal any additional details for the time being.
Students also said they plan to stage another protest Friday where members of the Gender Equity Club and the Black Student Union will lay out what changes they want to see from the school.
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