PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Student journalists at Portland’s Grant High School just released an entire issue of Grant Magazine devoted to the topic of sexual assault, an issue they describe as candid, open and raw.
Students said this was a tough issue to tackle but they felt it was important to start a conversation.
The front cover is a mannequin’s head with a hand covering the mouth. The student journalists say it represents people who are silenced — and the awareness and change they feel is so important.
Grant Magazine is a student-run publication through their journalism class. There are 25 students involved who turn out 8 issues a year. Typically, their issues are not themed, but they felt the issue of sexual assault was important.
The staff began working on this issue over the summer, inspired by the rise of the #MeToo movement. They were also inspired by issues they’ve seen at their own school, like a list last spring posted in bathrooms accusing 5 Grant students of sexual assault.
The articles in Grant Magazine cover everything from consent to a student’s first-hand account of rape to the history of sexual assault — and what happens or doesn’t happen when it’s reported.
“I think that when we talk about sexual assault, it’s a really hard thing to talk about, and so it makes a lot of people uncomfortable,” said 17-year-old Jessica Griepenburg, the senior editor-in-chief for Grant Magazine. “But I think that’s what our job is as a magazine is to bring up these uncomfortable topics and sort of force people to talk about them. Otherwise change isn’t going to happen.”
She helped come up with the idea months ago.
When the hard copy came out Thursday at school, the magazine staff said at first students were pretty silent as they read the articles and took it all in.
Now, though, they said some students are sharing their own experiences.
Junior Narain Dubey said, “There have been a lot of people now coming up to us and talking with their peers about how they’ve had experiences themselves, they’ve heard about experiences with their friends and their family members.”
Among the articles in the magazine is a survivor’s account from someone who wished to stay anonymous.
“Really it was an an opportunity to share the experiences they’ve gone through as a high schooler and also to remind the school that this happens to people at this age as well,” he said. “It’s not just something that adults have to deal with or people in Hollywood or the White House have to deal with, this is happening all over the world and especially for people who are young.”
Editor-in-Chief Ari Tandan said sex assaults are “not worse here than at other schools in PPS or outside PPS or even outside of Oregon, but again it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. And I hope our issue can start a conversation to create real, tangible nationwide change.”
Working on this issue and hearing the stories was really difficult, said Stella Kondylis Breeze.
“But I’m so proud of our staff and the work that we put in for this.”