A group of female athletes from a Charlotte-area high school have been suspended after protesting their school’s decision to allow a soccer player to participate in a recent game after being accused of sexually assaulting a other student.
On Friday, October 1, Sereniti Simpson and other members of the Olympic High School Women’s College Volleyball team held a walkout to draw attention to how their school deals with reports of sexual misconduct , especially for student athletes.
“We’re here today because we’re not going to let them silence our voices anymore,” Simpson told local station WCNC at the time. “If you get your phone picked up in class you’re on the bench, but yet it can be investigated for a sex crime and still play on Friday, that’s ridiculous.”
Brianna Moncada, an elder at the school, told the station coaches covered the 15-year-old’s ankle monitor before allowing him to take the stage.
Due to the age of the students involved, neither the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department nor the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools could confirm the identity of the accused student and therefore could not confirm that he had played the game. game in question. CMPD confirmed that a 15-year-old student at Olympic was arrested and charged with attempted second-degree rape, second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault on September 14, following an incident that took place the day before.
According to Simpson, however, the student body knows full well which player was arrested. “Girls told me they didn’t feel safe because they saw him walking on their campus,” she said. “And not just him. There are so many other boys who can walk for free. [School administators] really need to take action to make our daughters feel safer on campus. They must kick the kids off campus who are accused of crimes. “
Instead, Charlotte Observer reports the two members of the women’s volleyball team who spoke were suspended for one day for violating school board policy on student protests. Officials said that while a separate, planned indoor protest in the school gymnasium on Friday morning was allowed, the “disruptive” outing of students was not.
“Other sports teams were represented in the protest – hundreds of students were demonstrating – but the volleyball team was in the front line,” one of the girls’ parents told the Observer under cover of anonymity. “If you can’t punish them all, you can’t punish any of them. “
Simpson, the other suspended student, returned her jersey when her coach informed her of the suspension.
“We were benched just to demand a safer environment not just for ourselves, but for all the girls on a CMS campus,” she said. “I won’t play for a team or a school that punishes its athletes for wanting a safer environment. It is time to take a stand. We must act now. “
Schools in the state of North Carolina and Charlotte Mecklenburg do not require student-athletes to be suspended from their teams if convicted of a felony. However, following the October 1 protest Erica Turner, Olympic sports director, said that “any student-athlete arrested or charged with a criminal offense will not be allowed to participate while charges are pending. instance”.