An Accusation of Sexual Harassment at John Adams High School
Andrew and Jennifer are both members of the John Adams High School Student Council. Andrew (a senior) is the Student Body President and Jennifer (a sophomore) is his Vice President. Throughout the school year Andrew has been struggling to keep his many commitments; he runs track, is president of the National Honors Society, and has a part time job, as well as working several hours a week as an after school volunteer with an extended care program at the local elementary school. Jennifer has been covering many of Andrew’s Student Council responsibilities, and getting no recognition- but she continues because she is hoping to be President next year, and Andrew’s recommendation would be very helpful.
Word of Andrew’s failure to complete several tasks has reached the desk of the Student Council faculty advisor, and he plans to bring up the issue with Andrew at the next meeting. Unfortunately, Andrew has an away meet and misses the meeting. The advisor calls for an emergency vote to remove Andrew and replace him with Jennifer (temporarily), the vote comes down as 5-6 (with Jennifer abstaining) in favor of removal. Jennifer is then sworn in as the new Student Body President.
Upon finding out what has happened at the meeting, via text message, Andrew is furious. Angrily he uses red “Window Print,” a removable spray paint, to write the word SLUT on the front and rear window of Jennifer’s mother’s car. A third party student witnesses the event and reports the act to the authorities.
The next morning Andrew (who is 18 and a legal adult) is called into the principal’s office, where Jennifer, her mother, the principal and a guidance counselor are waiting. Jennifer’s mother is filing a complaint of sexual harassment against Andrew on her daughter’s behalf. John Adams High School is a zero tolerance school, if Andrew is found to be guilty of harassment, he will be expelled.
Andrew contests that not only was there no permanent damage to vehicle, but that he has heard Jennifer and her friend calling each other “Bitch” “Slut” and “Whore” all the time, and that Jennifer even made her best friend a shirt that read “Bitch” in glitter. He says that it was meant to be funny and not hurtful. Yet, Jennifer is hurt and her mother is clearly upset over the event and wants Andrew punished.
After promising to make a public apology on the announcements at school and officially resign from all offices he holds in school clubs (including captain of the track team) Andrew is allowed to stay in school and graduate with his class. Jennifer gets to keep her new position of Student Body President until the elections in the fall of the following year.
Do you think the school took the proper actions against Andrew?
Do you believe Andrew was exercising his right to free speech? Or did her cross a line?
Do you believe what Andrew did counts as sexual harassment?
Did Jennifer’s mother have a legitimate claim of harassment against Andrew, not knowing how Jennifer and her friends speak to each other?
Imagine you are the principal. You have to make a decision regarding this case, would you stay with the original punishment from the scenario, or would you level a different judgment? What would you do in this case?
After giving you each time individually to read through and answer the questions on your own, I will be breaking you into THREE groups for Friday’s Mock Mediation.
Complication: Jennifer’s mother takes the case to court seeking damages against the school and Andrews. Each group must represent their interest regarding this case.
Group 1: This group will represent the interests of Jennifer and her Mother (think the argumentation strategy of theGlee episode)
Group 2: This group will represent the interests of Andrew (think the position the South Park episode presented)
Group 3: Will represent the interests of the John Adams High School. You will have to defend your punishment as being adequate, and your actions as fair. (you are the middle ground)
You will use whatever lab time you have left today and 15 minutes on Friday to research and prepare your statements.
YOU MUST DEVELOP:
A strong and clear statement of argument (your thesis)
At least THREE points of support (evidence)
At least THREE sources
An opening and closing argument