A 15-year-old high school student in Maine was suspended after she posted a number of sticky notes in a school bathroom reading, “There’s a rapist in our school and you know who it is.”
Buzzfeed News reports that the Cape Elizabeth High School student, Aela Mansmann, was attempting to call attention to incidents of sexual assault and harassment at her school, and not referring to a specific individual when she posted the note last month. “It was really addressing the general culture of our school, and keeping in mind several specific cases,” she told the outlet. “But there are so many it’s hard to pinpoint just one and advocate for just one of them.” Mansmann said she felt the school was not adequately addressing incidents of assault and harassment.
Instead, last Friday, the school suspended Mansmann, allegedly after a student complained that they were targeted by the note. Apparently, administrators spent several weeks questioning Mansmann and her friends about it, in an effort to find out who wrote the note (and not, apparently, if they did indeed think there was a rapist on campus, which one might consider a more pressing topic of investigation). “For three weeks, myself and other students were brought in for interviews and interrogation,” Mansmann told Buzzfeed News. “They promised all of us whoever put notes up would not be in trouble.”
Though the school told reporters they believe they’ve adequately responded to reports of sexual harassment and assault in the past, the Portland Press Herald published accounts of several students who say otherwise. One student said she reported a sexual assault to school staff twice, but “was brushed off and the topic kept getting changed.” Another said she reported unwanted touching from a student to a school social worker, but was similarly brushed off. “I was like, ‘OK, I guess they can’t do anything about it so I’ll just deal with it,’” she told the paper.
Mansmann, who also organized a walkout on Monday that amassed 50 students, said she was disappointed by the school’s response to her note. “It makes me angry that I’m being punished for bullying and a rapist isn’t being punished for raping people,” she told NBC affiliate WCSH. The school, meanwhile, put out a statement reaffirming they suspended her for alleged bullying:
Mansmann plans to appeal the suspension.